New survey data from Gallup shows Republican voters’ image of Sen. Ted Cruzhas fallen precipitously in the last month. At the beginning of April, half of Republican voters had a positive image of Cruz, while just 35 percent had a negative view. Since then, however, that image has almost completely flipped.
Currently, just 39 percent of Republican voters nationwide have a favorable view of Cruz and 45 percent have a negative view. Cruz’s net-favorable rating with Republican voters, then, is -six.
Over the same period, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has increased his favorable rating from 53 to 59 percent. His unfavorable rating has fallen from 41 to 35 percent.
At the beginning of April, Cruz’s net-favorable rating was +15, just ahead of Trump, who was at +12. Today, though, Cruz is at -six, while Trump has jumped to +24.
In many ways, favorable ratings are good proxies for the state of a campaign. Had one left the country for a month at the beginning of April and simply consulted the Gallup survey upon returning, one would have a pretty clear picture of the Republican nomination contest today.
Trump has gained considerable ground among Republican voters, largely at the expense of Cruz. This change in opinion could be due to Trump’s aggressive campaigning against what he says is a “rigged” primary process or the building sense that Trump’s nomination is inevitable.
It could be a combination of the two or a reflection of Cruz’s tactical shift from being an equal rival for the nomination to a candidate promising a contested convention. A candidate trying to be a “spoiler” for another’s nomination risks becoming spoiled himself in the eyes of voters.
Trump’s favorable rating among all Americans is still worse than Cruz’s. Trump’s image with Democrats is a staggering -75, a full 30 points worse than Cruz’s image with the other party. Trump is hated by Democrats slightly more than Republicans hate Hillary Clinton, which is quite a feat considering Trump just entered politics less than a year ago.
These numbers, however, are little comfort to Cruz and his campaign. The candidates’ relative standing with Democrats or unaffiliated voters is largely immaterial when the two are still vying for the Republican nomination.
Trump’s standing among Republicans is actually far worse than Hillary’s standing among Democrats. That said, Trump’s standing with GOP voters is 30 points better than Cruz’s standing.
T.S. Eliot wrote that “April is the cruelest month.” That certainly applies to the Cruz campaign.