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Cruz Surges With Conservatives
Updated: Monday, October 14 2013, 10:53 AM CDT
Even as national polls show voters souring on Sen. Ted Cruz, the tea party hero is surging with conservatives.
The fiery Texas freshman claimed first place in a high profile straw poll at this weekend's Values Voter Summit hosted by the Family Research Council Action in Washington, D.C.
It's one of the first significant polls of the 2016 presidential cycle and brightens the spotlight already bathing Cruz during his ongoing role as the champion of defunding President Obama's health care reform law.
Cruz crushed the competition with 42 percent of the total vote, a double digit lead over Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and Fox News contributor who placed second with 13 percent. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R – PA) came in third also with 13 percent but with one less vote than Carson.
A prudent adviser would urge Cruz to take his victory lap with not a grain but an entire shaker of salt. Only once in the previous four years of the straw poll has the frontrunner eventually gone on to become a presidential nominee and even then the timing was askew. Mitt Romney won the very first Value Voters Summit poll in 2007 and didn't get the Republican nod until 2012 with ultimately less than successful results.
And while social conservatives make up a crucial part of the Republican foundation, Cruz will have to rebuild bridges to other key groups if he hopes to make a competitive appeal to the general electorate. While the religious right is firmly behind him, last week's Wall Street Journal/NBC poll found that just 14 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of him while twice as many view him negatively.