2016: The GOP’s Four Faces

Cruz Isn’t Trump Voters’ Second Choice, Part Two

My last post on this subject got a little pushback, so I decided to look at some other data points to see if Trump voters are likely to switch to Ted Cruz if they start to see their American Idol as more of a political apprentice. So far, these data confirm the initial thought: Cruz will pick up his share of Trump supporters, but nowhere near the majority.

Three recent national polls asked respondents who their second choice is. Two helpfully provided tabulations for the percentage of each second choice by the person’s first choice (i.e., the percent of Trump backers who choose Cruz, Carson, etc. as their second choice). In each poll, PPP and USAT/Suffolk, only thirteen percent of Trump backers chose Cruz as their second choice.

The FOX national poll also asked the first/second choice question, but did not provide direct tabs of the share of Trump backers who chose Cruz, et al, as their second choice. It did, however, do the next best thing: it gave the entire GOP race standings if Trump were out. Trump polled 26 percent in the overall standings and Cruz polled 8 percent. Without Trump, Cruz rose to 11 percent, a three point gain. Three divided by 26 is about 11 1/2 percent, nearly identical to the thirteen percent from the other two polls.

This might seem to be too low given that Cruz is actively courting Trump and his backers. But the PPP poll suggests that effort is not yet paying off. Cruz’s name ID among Trump backers is only 47 percent positive, 37 percent negative. He still has a lot of selling to do before Trumpets think “Ted Cruz” when their thoughts stray from His Hairness.

Now, there are plenty of scenarios in which I can imagine Cruz will do well with current Trump supporters. If Cruz breaks through in Iowa and Bush recovers to win New Hampshire, for example, he could pick up loads of Trump supporters in an ensuing one-on-one. Or if Ben Carson, who currently is the Trump backers’ favorite second choice, fades, perhaps the junior Senator from Texas will gain those voters love.

But right now none of those things are clearly in the offing. If The Donald were to drop out tomorrow, all the data show Ted Cruz would not gain even a plurality of Trump backers’ votes.


Henry OlsenMr. Olsen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an editor at UnHerd.com, and the author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism.


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