A new poll released by Public Policy Polling on Friday finds Sen. Ted Cruz now leading the pack of possible candidates for the 2016 Republican nomination. Garnering support from 20% of Republican voters nationwide, he edges out Sen. Rand Paul who was support from 17% of GOP voters. Tied for 5th is Sen. Marco Rubio. The results are an inverse of PPP’s poll in May, which found Rubio the favorite and Cruz in 6th place for the nomination.
In May, PPP found that Rubio had almost three-times the support of Cruz among Republican voters. Friday’s poll, however, found that Cruz had twice as much support as Rubio. Two things explain this dramatic shift; ObamaCare and Amnesty.
Soon after the May PPP poll, Sen. Rubio enlisted in the Senate “Gang of 8” to push immigration reform with a heavy emphasis on granting amnesty. This is looking increasingly like an existential mistake. I support immigration reform, as do many conservatives and libertarians. I do not support, however, immigration reform drafted by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin.
Their legislation, endorsed and promoted by Rubio, granted immediate amnesty with the promise of tighter enforcement sometime in the future. Rubio, apparently, completely misread the lessons of the 2012 elections and, in charting a ‘moderate’ path on the issue, has probably precluded himself from serious consideration in the 2016 primaries.
As Rep. Steve King told me at the height of the amnesty debate, “I’m not sure its wise to get on the other side of Steve King and [Iowa Senator] Chuck Grassley on an issue.”
While Rubio has faded, Cruz has surged in the polls, even though he first took office just 9 months ago. Since the May poll, however, when he just barely edged out Rick Santorum, Cruz has engaged in a very high-profile, spirited and principled fight that aligns foundational with Republican voters. He may have lost the immediate battle over defunding ObamaCare but, by standing on principle, he is winning a broader war.
I like Marco Rubio. I wish him no ill, but I think he received some very bad advice from people who have no sense of the conservative grass roots. I hope his Icarus-like fall from grace among Republican voters provides an example for other Republican hopefuls.
After John McCain and Mitt Romney, Republican voters are desperate for who will engage the left and has the courage to stand on principle. I don’t know, ultimately, if Ted Cruz is that politician. The eventual GOP nominee, however, will certainly look like he did this week.