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Reader Poll: “If You Had to Vote Today,” Rubio vs. Cruz Edition

Reader Poll: “If You Had to Vote Today,” Rubio vs. Cruz Edition

Voice your opinion!

Last week’s CNN debate stirred the pot in what has been a roller coaster of an early primary season. A post-debate CNN poll showed Carly Fiorina surging into second place behind Donald Trump (a 12% jump since early September,) followed closely by Ben Carson. Right now, it’s an outsider’s race—but how long can it last?

The tendency to wax and wane has been a hallmark of the GOP’s “outsider” candidates. Their bumps and slides have had less to do with their budding policy plans, and more to do with how they’ve handled themselves under the extreme pressure of the national spotlight. Trump (for all his faults and foibles,) Fiorina, and Carson have all found their niche in the conversation, and if that was all it takes to become president, we could vote tomorrow and eliminate the primary state middlemen.


As time wears on, primary voters (who are on the whole completely different animals compared to general election voters) will increasingly demand more and more substance from these candidates, and some pundits cite this as the reason the “outsiders” will become supplanted by more politically experienced candidates.

Erick Erickson has an interesting piece today laying out the case for a final showdown between Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. Neither are “outsiders,” but both conform to the idea that we need a “fresh face” at the forefront of conservative politics.

Here’s his analysis:

If we look at traditional campaign data, which under the smoke and veneer of Campaign 2016 still matters, what we will find is that Ted Cruz is laying down a hell of a ground game and has tons of cash with not nearly the burn rate that even Jeb Bush has. Cruz stands to profit the most from the collapse of Carson, Fiorina, and Trump — all of whom are playing on the outsider advantages right now. Those advantages will start to go away as more traditional and necessary campaign tactics and strategies kick in like, for example, ballot access.

Cruz can get himself on ballots and get signatures collected. He can make a play through the SEC primary better than many of the other candidates can. He captures the conservative outsider angst while also being a more credible candidate long term than any of the other outsiders. Cruz has, after all, won an election and has a professional campaign team.

While conservatives will gravitate rapidly to Cruz, the more establishment oriented people who recognize the party still needs a fresh face and chage will likely go to Marco Rubio. Already I’m hearing that both Walker and Bush donors are looking at Rubio as their next pick. Rubio has the highest positives of any of the candidates and is, in fact, the one Republican that the Democrats desperately fear because of his perceived ability to attract women, young voters, and Hispanics.

Likewise, Rubio has an experienced team that will be able to navigate ballot access laws, has consistently high polling in a volatile (and inaccurate) polling year, and did I mention just how positively people view him. Rubio also is running a tighter campaign with a slower burn rate than some of the others.

It’s an interesting analysis of a split that has already shown itself in discussions amongst conservatives who are desperately seeking Not Another Romney©. The same CNN poll cited above has Marco Rubio at 11% and Ted Cruz at 6%, which puts them behind the front-runners but nowhere near the troubled territory that Jindal and Walker have found themselves in. I think Erick is right, here; if you consider the field as it stands, and look at who can lay claim to both shining media moments and the capacity to both understand and relay complex policy points, it follows that Cruz and Rubio should land on top.

I disagree with Erick’s use of the word “establishment” in connection with Rubio’s future prospects, only because it implies that Rubio is empirically less conservative than Cruz. Rubio will appeal to more “establishment” sources of funding and promotion not because he has morphed into the fresh face of moderate Republicanism, but because his tactics embrace a more innovative philosophy that reaches beyond the conservative base and into new communities and voting demographics. That being said, Cruz’s ability to reach and ignite the base is nearly unparalleled, which will serve as a boon once ground efforts truly kick off.

They both have the ability to inspire, and they both represent “something new” in terms of GOP presidential politics. It’s an interesting thought game: who would you choose? Give your preferred candidate a click in the poll below, then head to the comments for the inevitable debate!

The poll will close on Tuesday night at midnight, PST.

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“They both have the ability to inspire, and they both represent “something new” in terms of GOP presidential politics.”

Rubio is about as “new” as salt. He’s in fact a newly-packaged PC parvenu edition of establishmentarianism, a talky wonder-boy, GOPe lackey, an eager-beaver bipartisan brown-noser.

“Rubio is running on a platform of reducing labor costs for corporations and increasing diversity—or what he calls a New American Century… Rubio’s plan to expand the number of Muslim migrants admitted into the nation central to his vision for a “New American Economy”.

For instance, his H-1B bill currently before Congress—known as the I-Squared bill—would substantially increase Muslim immigration by lifting green card caps for foreign students and tripling the number of foreign workers admitted on visas. One of the bill’s biggest corporate backers, Disney—has already begun using these cost-effective foreign workers on H-1b visas to replace the more expensive American workers.”

A non-starter. Rubio is an echo, not a choice. Cruz is a choice.

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to pesanteur. | September 21, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    You understated things. You forgot lying SOS.

    I will never vote for Rubio, to whom I contributed several years ago. He is a liar or, at best, a turncoat, and he has demonstrated the fundamental RINO characteristic of being a “campaign conservative,” to use Cruz’s expression. We know, in our heart, that he wants amnesty for all illegals.
    Cruz is not perfect, but close. In addition, I have the benefit of having worked with Cruz in the private sector, and I know him to be the real deal.

      DuraMater in reply to Rick. | September 21, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      I, too, helped Rubio in prior elections. Nunca mas!

      So many across this country are unaware that Marco has a recorded history that predates his tenure in the US Senate. They apparently are beguiled by the glib, personable and pleasant appearing “son of a Cuban dissident” back story. They do not realize Marco’s role in the Gang of 8 was NOT a misstep born of naivete.

      Marco showcased his stalwart allegiance to the CoC and the Miami ethnocentric pro-amnesty cabal and became a sort of protege of Jeb Bush while Speaker in Tallahassee. And, he reached back to his days on the West Miami City Commission to bring his old immigration attorney buddy to Washington to help in crafting the Gang of 8 bill.

      I commend posters here like Rick, pesanteur and Subotai for their keen awareness, informed and informative comments. You know, there are some of us down here in FL who actually hoped Marco would chase the POTUS brass ring…just to get him out of the Senate (he cannot run in the upcoming senatorial race here). Replacing Rubio with a trustworthy conservative senator while keeping him out of the White House will be a win/ win for Florida and the country (USA).

According to the author,
CITIZENSHIP FOR ILLEGALS = “…a more innovative philosophy…”.

What. A. Crock. Of. Hooey.

Choose for what?

President or GOP nominee?

I think Cruz would make a better President.

I think Rubio has a better chance to win if nominated.

    I will not vote for Rubio or any other Establishment candidate. Period.

    The Estab-Boys believe Rubio is their Hispano ace in the hole.

    This race is barely out of the starting gate. There is a heck of a lot more to come as this process continues.

    As for Trump, I believe he has to make a big step forward in his thinking if he wants to stay relevant and in the top three.

    Cruz, I believe, is playing a very smart game.

    Fiorina is in for a bruising in the next debate from all sides, in my assessment.

    Women don’t usually fair well with women voters with all things being equal, just ask Wendy Davis.

    Megyn Kelly is far from closing the door on her kamikaze mentality.

    An insightful poll question, and companion blog post, would be to ask:

    ‘Who Do You Think Will Be The Next GOP Candidate To Drop Out Of The 2016 Presidential Race?”

MouseTheLuckyDog | September 21, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Cruz is a guy that I would vote for. Rubio is a GOPe that I would grudgingly vote for. ( As opposed to Bush who I will never vote for. )

buckeyeminuteman | September 21, 2015 at 2:12 pm

When the comedy attacks, self-glorification and proving-I-can-be-in-the-big-boys-club theatrics are over, it will be refreshing to get to the real issues. I hope to see both of these two at the top come Super Tuesday.

That fact that many of my fav’s are in dead last (Cruz, Walker) shows how unlikely I am going to be represented in future American administrations.

I get why Trump is leading- he’s shoving it to the media but since that’s getting media ratings, they are playing along. He’s not a conservative and doesn’t represent me.

The fact that Jeb is not dead last from beginning to end shows how out of touch the GOP is with conservatives.

Insufficiently Sensitive | September 21, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Voting today is ridiculous. I’d vote FOR either Rubio or Cruz as opposed to any Democrat who might get nominated, now that Henry Jackson’s memory has been excommunicated by the bright-blue (should-be-red) Party.

This website’s baiting us with ‘let’s Cruz and Marco fight’ is a waste of time, and Erick Ericson’s analysis is a time-consuming ball of fluff.

However, both Cruz and Marco could improve on their ‘America is Great’ rhetoric, and spend some thought on convincing the general public WHY it is.

There’s already too much reflexive blame-America-first thinking in the public mind, implanted there by our ‘news’ media and the educational system. What our Republican candidates need to lead is a movement to restore confidence in our system of government and give inspiration for the creative citizens to hold up their heads and return to entrepreneurial activities without the poison of redistributionist guilt. They need to start with, and improve on, Reagan’s faith in Americans, and to hell with blame-America-first.

Sammy Finkelman | September 21, 2015 at 2:16 pm

I don’t think Cruz is going anywhere, and he’s also a fraud.

I would always prefer Rubio to Cruz, so I don’t even know if I should answer this.

Rubio’s pretty decent. He even admitted a criticism that Donald Trump made of him was accurate (he had missedmany votes this year)

Rubio is really trying to become more knowledgeable (and it shows, and you could worry about the quality of his knowledge) but he should have done that when he was firsty elected to the United States Senate.

    He calculatingly, determinedly, relentlessly pursued amnesty with Chuck Schumer. How any conservative can countenance this kind of audacious betrayal can only be understood as masochism.

      ConradCA in reply to pesanteur. | September 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Cruz never pursued amnesty. He has been unstinting in support of his conservative principles. Marco embraced the progressive fascist’s amnesty.

I’ve long heard it said…and I believe it myself down to my toenails…that a principled conservative CAN win, and WILL be supported by the American people.

We need a strong reform candidate who will take the nation BACK, away from the cliff.

Cruz is that guy in this election cycle.

i’m done holding my nose and voting for an “electable” RINO squish served up by the GOPe…

neither of these two has covered themselves in glory while in DC, nor have they done anything concrete to advance conservative causes, so why should i vote for either of them?

if they are the only two choices, i’d mark both options, just as i did when presented with a choice between Moonbeam Brown & Neal Cashandcarry for governor here in #Failifornia two years ago.


Rubio lost me forever the moment he joined John McCain’s Gang of Idiots.

Cruz for principles, Rubio for electability.

    Milwaukee in reply to wcvarones. | September 22, 2015 at 1:04 am

    “…Rubio for electability.”

    It’s like this. Real Democrats vote for a real Democrat and conservatives don’t. So McCain, who was a pretend Democrat, lost to a real Democrat, 0bama. Rubio is a pretend Democrat and would lose to a real Democrat.

    Hey, Professor. Used to be when I spelled “Obama” with a zero, “0bama”, the zero didn’t have a slash. What’s up with the slash? You helping the boys for National Security monitor me?

    ConradCA in reply to wcvarones. | September 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    We need to stop voting for RINOs because they appeal to Democrats. That is what got us the losers leading the House and Senate.

Trump has two policies on his website, and more are coming. Haven’t seen many on the other candidates’ sites.

Why are we already throwing the “outsiders” to the curb and bucking up the Establishment lapdogs?

Fallacy of the excluded middle, setting an either/or proposition as if it is a fait accompli.

Both men have attributes that I like and respect.

I abstained from voting. You know who I am rooting for.

If Walker decides to leave the race down the road then I’ll let you know who I favor.

I’m torn. I like Rubio for electability. He’s very photogenic, personable, likable, and incredibly smart. I’d be overjoyed if he were our next President. But, for pure ideology and uncompromising nature, I voted Cruz. I think he’s what we need right now. He’d be my choice if I didn’t consider having to beat the democrats in an election.

    I’m torn. I like Rubio for electability. He’s very photogenic, personable, likable, and incredibly smart.

    So is Lassie, but a collie still wouldn’t be a good president.

      Barry in reply to Old0311. | September 22, 2015 at 1:52 am

      “So is Lassie, but a collie still wouldn’t be a good president.”

      I’d vote for any dog over rubio. Dogs never tell lies. They are mans best friend.

    pesanteur in reply to BrokeGopher. | September 21, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Pardon me, but I find to be a totally unsupportable narrative cliche.

    There is nothing to suggest Rubio is more electable than Cruz. Cruz’s victory in Texas was a stunning come-from-behind electoral triumph, more impressive than Rubio’s win in Florida. Neither has run a national race before so nothing to support the idea Rubio is more nationally electable. Just guesswork based on a lot of patter about how Rubio is more “likeable” and Cruz mean and more minatory according to MSM narrative. Cruz in fact is a far more cheerful persona than Rubio (who comes across as glib and pinched). Cruz heartily engages leftist dissenters at rallies on the road — I’ve never seen Rubio do this.

    I wouldn’t call Cruz “uncompromising” so much as principled. Cruz in fact has show a distinct ability to work on issues with democrats, though not in ways that would compromise core conservative principles as Rubio has.

    The idea that Cruz is inherently less able to defeat democrats than Rubio is simply unprovable at this point. I suggest this is being advanced by the MSM because they see Rubio as weaker.

I, too abstained. If the party nominates either, I will vote for him.

I would also happily vote for Walker, Carson, Fiorina. I could easily be reconciled to voting for nearly all of the rest. Of the field we have now, I would be most uneasy about voting for Trump, Paul and Huckabee. Those guys are strong niche players, but I think they would have a hard time getting as many nominal Democratic voters as would be needed to win.

Any of them would make a better President than Hillary or Sanders.

Which one supports deporting illegals with no chance of citizenship?

I’d be 100% comfortable voting for either of them. Gun to my head, I’m going with Rubio. Rubio to me seems more personable, and better suited to crush whoever the Dems throw at us in ’16.

As mentioned, either of them present the Dems with running against a hispanic. As a [white] hispanic, nothing would bring me bigger joy than throwing the usual Dem rhetoric of ‘racist’ back at them.

Your poll is unfair. It presumes that we have a preference. My preference is neither as neither is eligible to be potus. How about a ‘neither of the above’ or ‘I would not vote for either’?

I liked Scott Walker. Don’t understand why FNC and CNN basically washed him out of the debates.

Rubio is either naive or deceitful.

Naive if he truly thought he could convince Schumer and the gang that amnesty for people illegally present in the US is the wrong solution to the illegal “immigrant” problem.

Deceitful if he really knew all along that the Gang of 8 deal would be an amnesty deal.

Either way – naive or deceitful – Rubio is bad news.

    Mumzieistired, deceitful is the word you are looking for. He was known to be an amnesty supporter even during his Senate race but he promised that he wouldn’t push the issue if he were to win. That is the only reason why many of us voted for him despite his views (the alternative was the Orange Bomber). The first thing he did on getting to DC was to joint McCain’s crusade to tear down the southern border. All Hail Greater Mexico!

    I’d vote for Rubio when it snows in h3ll.

Went to the Cruz speech at the school on Mackinac Island. Much more personable, quick, witty that on tv. Is a conservative and confident. No notes, speaks what he is and is not boring or confusing. Some in the crowd started chanting “USA, USA, USA…” and Cruz cut in “THAT’s hate speech…….according to Obama”. Good laugh. I was Walker, would have no problem voting for Cruz or Rubio.

This link has an interesting comparison of the candidates:

If you click on the dots, it explains the reasoning.

    SunshineOkie in reply to Mich. | September 22, 2015 at 1:40 am

    Cruz is highly intelligent and a trustworthy, Christian, Constitutionalist. Unfortunately,he hasn’t had much speaking time during the debates, so he hasn’t had a real opportunity to shine like he has in other venues where the candidates are free to talk longer on topics.

At this moment, Rubio is on the Sean Hannity show saying he is for “normalization” of those who are here illegally except we have to get rid of those who are “criminals.” (obviously he doesn’t know that entering the U.S. illegally is a “criminal offense) He said that many are against that, but he’s not. He wants to seal the borders first; “modernize” our immigration system; give those who are here illegally green cards and then, 10 or 12 years down the road see “how that is working out.”

There is no way I would pick Rubio over Cruz. Rubio is pro-amnesty and all his pretty words doesn’t change that.

I also appreciate that Cruz doesn’t really run on being “Hispanic” while Rubio puts that out, front and center. Cruz is off the charts brilliant (according to Allen Dershowitz sp?) and knows the Constitution better than he knows the back of his hand and if ever there was a time we need to return to the Constitution, now is it.

Rubio also supports anchor baby rules while Cruz does not.

Hey all, been out of the country for 6 months. Tried to follow along overseas, not so easy. Missed a lot, I can tell.
As far as I can tell Rubio is still part of the McConnell crew and Cruz is still the outsider. I’ll go with the anti-establishment fighter any day. Cruz, it is.

Sorry! can’t vote for either as nether were born exclusively under U.S. sovereignty.

Cruz has proven himself to be a consistent, conservative, Constitutionalist who can be trusted to do what he says. He’s highly intelligent, passionate, and also personable and witty when he’s not limited by a timed debate answer. He’s smart enough to refrain from getting in the middle of the juvenile personal attack drama that wastes valuable debate time for real issues. He refrains from attacking Trump as some have, but is unafraid to call out his own party leadership for lying to their fellow congressmen. He’s for a flate tax, against amnesty and Common Core, wants to shred the Iran deal on day one of his presidency and is fighting to defund Planned Parenthood for their butchery and sales of baby body parts. Rubio is intelligent and seems passionate, but Ted has earned my vote.

Well, I heard Rubio was a Muslim.

WHEW..! (Morbidly) fascinating comment thread.

Marco would make a great candidate. If Carly were his VP running mate, I think it would be even stronger. He’s a rock-ribbed conservative with belly muscles aplenty, STRONG No-Hole-In-The-Sand National Security and Foreign-Military Policy, a sharp intelligence, much charm & likability. Scott Walker would also be a great VP pick. If Ted were the candidate I’d have no resistance at all supporting him actively.