Senator Ted Cruz of Texas just announced he’s running for President–making him the first Republican to officially throw his hat in the ring.
Instead of a speech, Cruz succinctly posted on Twitter shortly after midnight: “I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support!”
However, despite some popular grassroots support (and his reputation as a conservative firebrand leader in Washington), he has a tougher road to the White House than it appears for what would be America’s first Latino President.
While Cruz is seen, even by Democrats, as a very intelligent man–he went to Princeton, Harvard Law School, and clerked for the Supreme Court–his political resume is thinner than most.
He’s only been in the U.S. Senate since 2013 and he’s never governed a state–in an election where many voters, especially Republicans, are wary of electing another inexperienced candidate, like Barack Obama.
Already, his staff admits that Cruz might be a long shot for the White House. But they believe that, if they can be the second choice of enough voters in the GOP’s libertarian and social conservative factions, he can defeat a more establishment front-runner, like Jeb Bush.
Right now, Cruz attracts just 5.5% of the vote. The last presidential nominee to start with such low poll numbers was Bill Clinton, back in 1992, then a little-known Arkansas Governor. In other words, Cruz is almost a historical long shot.
While about half of Americans don’t know enough about Cruz to have made up their minds, according to a recent poll, Cruz faces fierce opposition from the Republican Party itself. Party elites–and the big-money donors that come with them–are concerned that Cruz will be too ideological to win a general election. That will severely hamper his ability to raise money for the primary, when campaign expenses are largely underwritten by benefactors.
To have a realistic shot at the Republican nomination, Cruz would have to win big among Tea Party conservatives and Christian evangelicals, especially in the South. He would also have to win, or at least make at least a strong showing, in Iowa, the first primary fight, to show his campaign has legs.
Whether or not Cruz can win remains to be seen, but it’s clear that the 2016 race has already started–and it’s going to be a whirlwind.