Ted Cruz has a serious predicament on his way to the nomination and there is only one thing that can help him.
Look at the map of the upcoming primaries and caucuses. Cruz has to battle Trump and the Establishment in New Hampshire. Then he has to swing into South Carolina where the Establishment is working hard to stop him.
He will compete with Marco Rubio in Nevada, where Rubio has roots. But then Cruz gets the South on March 1st. That sounds doable, but Cruz is going to have to battle Trump along the way. Cruz and Trump are both fighting over being the one outsider to take on the Establishment.
While battling Trump, Cruz also has to face an Establishment that will stop at nothing to defeat him. He weathered the storm mightily in Iowa, but the hits are going to keep coming. The CBS News debate in South Carolina is going to have Kim Strassel as a moderator. Strassel has served as one of the court stenographers to Republican leaders in Washington. She has penned multiple pieces attacking Cruz. She will try to throw him off his game.
The K Street lobbyists are willing to throw in with Donald Trump to stop Cruz. They see their livelihood at stake. It has nothing really to do with them thinking Cruz would be a weak general election candidate and everything to do with their weakened power should he get elected.
Battling Trump, battling Rubio, and battling Washington are really tough odds for any person. The pundit class on television has been touting anybody but Cruz and has particularly fixated on Marco Rubio. The press has given Trump a near free ride in the press and amazing free air time while largely ignoring Cruz. On Monday night in Iowa, virtually every news network was more fixated on Marco Rubio’s loss than Cruz’s actual win.
To be sure, Cruz has a well stocked war chest and lots of funds from small dollar donors. He has Super PACs helping and outside groups doing door to door. Cruz has put together an impressive micro-targeting operation and built amazing ground games in a number of states, not just Iowa. But in state after state he is working against media interests, Republican interests, and Donald Trump to stop him.
Cruz does have one thing that can help him. If Rubio is not able to weather his own incoming fire in New Hampshire and the establishment wing of the party fails to rapidly consolidate, Rubio will struggle as mightily as Cruz. And the odds are, if the establishment wing fails to consolidate but Cruz gets more victories against Trump, Trump will cut his losses sooner than a bunch of egos convinced they are destined to be President by virtue of being a governor.
The odds, however, are in Rubio’s favor. It is more likely that he will be able to consolidate establishment support quicker than Cruz can get rid of the specter of Donald Trump. To do so, conservatives are going to need to decisively rally to Cruz.