Throughout his presidential campaign, Ted Cruz has argued that conservatives should and would unite behind him. It finally happened in Wisconsin. Conservatives backed him over Donald Trump by 54 to 33 percent. Since they made up three-quarters of primary voters, that margin more than overcame Trump’s smaller advantage among moderate voters.
This wasn’t foreordained. Trump was leading Marquette’s respected state poll in February. And Cruz has typically done well among voters who are Evangelical Christian conservatives or who consider themselves “very conservative.” His strongest states were originally thought to be southern and have actually been western. As the anti-Trump and broadly conservative votes have consolidated behind him, though, he has broken free from those boxes.
Or, at least, he has done so in Wisconsin. Governor Scott Walker and other Wisconsin Republicans — including its intelligent, principled radio hosts — deserve considerable credit for rallying behind Cruz instead of sitting on their hands, as too many Republicans elsewhere have done. They saw where the conservative interest lay, and they forthrightly advocated for it. Conservatives elsewhere should follow their lead rather than rationalizing inaction.
That applies, especially, to Republican officeholders. Some of them dislike Cruz personally. With all due respect, they should get over it. Some of them fear that he would lose a general election. All the evidence we have, though, suggests that he would be much more competitive than Trump—who, again based on that evidence, would cost Republicans the Senate and maybe even the House.
More important, the operating principle of Trump’s campaign appears to be to spend every day proving that he is unqualified, for reasons of character, temperament, and knowledge, to be president. In Ted Cruz, Republicans still have a chance to put forward a presidential candidate who is honorable, informed, and conservative. They should take it.