Let’s take it issue by issue (updated 4/14/2016).
Let’s assume that Donald Trump, not getting to 1237 delegates before the convention, has worn out the not-Trump delegates who make up the majority, so they coalesce around Cruz after several ballots. Cruz is the nominee.
And let’s assume (against the odds) that by November the primary voters have calmed down enough to rally around him.
Finally, let’s assume, easily, that Hillary also has enough delegates after the DNC convention.
In presidential elections America is purple (America is really a mixture of light red and light blue or lavender, but that color has connotations I don’t intend).
So can dark red Cruz beat dark blue Hillary in that America?
Let’s answer the question with these issues.
1. Tone and image are important.
Neither one has a pleasant smile, and both have charisma deficits, if Reagan and FDR are the standards. Both have equally irritating, nasally, tinny voices. Both are too pugnacious. Neither one comes across as winsome and friendly or attractive. Both send out a zealous vibe, while Ted acts extra-pious in a bad sense, as he tilts his eyebrows upward, much as Obama does, and uses pregnant pauses.
Hillary is sixty-eight years old, while Ted is forty-five.
It’s difficult to predict which unlikable and un-relatable image America will prefer. So it’s either a tie or Ted barely wins, thanks to the age difference. To be safe, let’s call it a tie since it’s impossible to imagine many voters “falling in love” with either one..
2. Family matters too.
Hillary doesn’t appear to have a happy marriage at all, if one can call it a marriage. Bill is in pictures on the web standing next to hot chicks. His shenanigans in the Oval Office during his presidency take away from any moral high ground Hillary can claim. People may have “Clinton fatigue” for this reason alone.
Ted Cruz’s family is attractive. He doesn’t have compromising photos (we can hope). If the Dems use Heidi’s bout with depression against her, then people might rally around a courageous woman who overcame a problem, and Ted can chivalrously defend her.
So family matters add up to a gain for Ted.
3. Goldman Sachs v. the Clinton Foundation.
Heidi Cruz has worked for them, and so far no evidence has turned up of any illegality or wrongdoing. (But maybe Main Street won’t be able to relate to Wall Street.) In any case, Ted hasn’t been involved directly in big business while he’s been in government.
The Clinton Foundation appears to have done all sorts of shady deals while Hillary has been in office. Soon after a large donation, the donor got extra-special treatment.
So in business affairs Ted has a clear gain over Hillary, unless bad deals show up in the Cruz camp.
4. How much does America love government?
As noted elsewhere, the formula is simple:
Self-interest + government benefits = love for government
That adds up to votes for Hillary.
Right on cue, however, dark red Ted promises to annihilate five federal agencies as quickly as possible — no incrementalism for him! Abolishing (not overhauling!) the IRS might prove to be a winner (think Robin Hood fighting the oppressive IRS that violates the formula), but the Department of Education? His supporters may be thrilled, but it’s easy to imagine the ordinary, uninformed, purple voter not liking it.
Hillary will become Obama’s third term; the budget has been reduced recently, thanks to the sequester and the House and Senate GOP leadership like John Boehner (i.e. the big bad “Establishment”), but it’s not clear she will target the bureaucracy even for strategic cuts, let alone extreme cuts.
Ted’s extremely austere policies will turn off general voters. He might even lose the Senate in 2018. But will his nuking (so to speak) the IRS make people so happy that they forgive the other destroyed agencies?
So we can give a tentative win to Hillary here, pending the impact of the tax overhaul.
5. Hillary will keep Obamacare, while Cruz will repeal and replace it.
O’care is a political loser; it violates the previous equation except for the few who benefit from it.
Does this factor offset Hillary’s win in the previous one?
Whatever the case, Cruz wins here.
6. Hillary comes out way ahead on immigration.
Certainly minority voters whose family members don’t have their paperwork in order want legalization and perhaps even a path towards citizenship. So the 55 percent climbs far north. They would surely vote for Hillary in droves (see the formula under no. 4).
And can Ted win without a significant percentage of minority voters? No. It’s a fantasy to believe millions of white voters who supposedly stayed home in 2012 will come out of the woodwork.
But can he pivot towards the center, in the Age of Social Media and a billion advertising dollars spent against him? Probably not.
Therefore, Hillary clearly wins on this issue and might win the entire election with it.
7. Hillary is under investigation, while Cruz is above board.
This is a serious factor. It may even be decisive, unless the feds ceremoniously call off the investigations sometime in September. Then the DNC can claim vindication against a silly GOP political plot. But if she is still under investigation, then the Ted campaign can make much of it. However, will it turn off Hillary’s purple voters so that they stay home when the SCOTUS vacancy is up for grabs?
Despite the last question and a non-indictment and ending the investigations at the right time, Ted tentatively wins on this issue, pending those possibilities.
8. Will America choose a woman for historical reasons?
Hillary might garner a few more votes with this issue, though Ted’s Hispanic background might offset it. Yet his hard-line stance on immigration (see no. 6) may cancel his background. And his Spanish is insufficient for him to be interviewed on Spanish TV, when Hispanic voters might expect it from the nominee named Cruz.
So let’s say Hillary’s identity politics puts her ahead.
9. Hillary’s foreign policy record is a disaster, while Cruz’s isn’t.
She’s attached to Obama’s failures: A partial list.
Cruz easily wins here.
10. Hillary’s favorability is currently really bad, while Cruz’s is slightly less bad.
Her negatives are -19, while his is -17, but he now outpolls her in a matchup, 47 to 44. (Only Trump’s are worse, which see at that link).
Let’s call this a disconcerting tie.
Tie: 2 times (nos. 1 and 10)
Cruz’s wins: 5 times (nos. 2, 3, 5, 7, 9)
Hillary’s wins: 3 times (nos. 4, 6, 8)
It seems then that Ted comes out ahead.
However, maybe one or two issues, like annihilating government agencies that people view as helpful, will outweigh all the others.
Take immigration. Minorities, following self-interest, will flock to Hillary. She could easily win the whole thing with them.
Or maybe Hillary’s foreign policy disasters or her shady Foundation or the investigations will slow her down.
Regardless of her damage, I feel only a little better about Cruz’s chances than I did before this speculative post. But both candidates are substandard (see no. 10).
So now … after this hypothetical exercise (and my similar one about Trump v. Hillary), I hope the convention is deadlocked so that the delegates (not the “Establishment”) select and vote for someone other than the current three. With total name recognition and likeability, he could draw more centrist purple swing voters than dark red Ted ever could.
But if it’s down to Cruz or Trump, then Cruz is the less bad choice (again see no. 10).
One thing is for sure, however: if it really is dark red Ted against dark blue Hillary in purple America, the election will be extremely close — even confusing and chaotic. He might pull it out at the end, but not because of his brand of hard-core conservatism, but because she is so badly damaged.
But a win would still be sweet.
Updated: NRO has a post, complete with polling numbers, about why Cruz has a slim shot at beating Hillary and doing better against her than Trump would.
Why Trump might win it all (not likely),
This post appeared originally at American Thinker, on April 12, 2016, but has been updated here.