Is Ted Cruz calculating his chances in the 2024 Iowa caucuses?

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, talks to Iowa voters before the 2016 Iowa caucuses. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

James Joyce, the novelist who wrote the masterpiece “Ulysses,” once observed: “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”

The recent actions of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, certainly bring that statement to mind.

In terms of sheer intellectual firepower, Cruz, a top graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School who was national debate champ, is arguably the smartest member of Congress since Roscoe Bartlett, R-Maryland, (doctorate in physiology with more than 30 real-world patents) and Vern Ehlers, R-Mich., (doctorate in nuclear physics).

Liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz, who did not vote for Cruz but taught him in law school at Harvard, declared on Fox News: “…Ted Cruz was one of the best students I ever had, because a teacher loves to be challenged.”

It is certainly a challenge to figure out Cruz’s actions in opposing Arizona’s electoral college votes last month until one looks at the GOP presidential primaries in 2024, which will probably start off again with Iowa and New Hampshire.

Cruz won the Iowa caucuses in 2016. Since then, the state has gone even more to the right. Trump won Iowa in the 2016 general election with 51% of the vote.  Last November, Trump took more than 53% of the vote in Iowa. Since 2008, votes for the Republican candidate in the presidential general election have been rising in Iowa. The Republicans hold about 60% of the seats in the Iowa General Assembly, also an increase.

After losing the Iowa primary in 2016 to Cruz, Trump won New Hampshire with over 35% of the vote.  A cluster of Republicans, including Cruz (11.6%), came in around 10-15%. John Kasich from Ohio was second with 15.7%.

Having lived in New Hampshire, it is tough to imagine anyone in the state who voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020 going for a liberal Republican like Kasich in the primary. It is, however, very easy to see those conservative GOP voters supporting Cruz in 2024, especially after his backing of Trump when few others would.

Following New Hampshire will most likely be Republican primaries in Trump Country, including Super Tuesday.

There will be South Carolina. Also Florida. Trump won these states in 2020. The Trump supporters in these states are the political prize for 2024, as Ted Cruz and every other Republican is well aware. The only difference is that Cruz is going after those voters hard in early 2021.

While Cruz won Iowa in 2016, he is not winning popularity contests in Congress.

“It’s something of an open secret that Cruz is the least liked member of Congress” stated one article in Salon. Midwest nice is indeed unique in the Iowa support for Cruz as another piece noted that, “You either hate him or you hate him.”  Google “Ted Cruz hated” and 770,000 results come up with only 263,000 for “Mitt Romney hated.”

Trump is also relationship-challenged as he once stated his only “real friends” are family members.

Last November, 74.22 million Americans, over 11 million more than in 2016, voted for Trump despite his being impeached, rocked by scandal, and opposed by virtually all of the national media (again). Support for Trump in Iowa rose from 800,983 in the 2016 general election to 897,672 in November 2020 despite being opposed by much of the Iowa press (again). In New Hampshire, votes for Trump went from 345,790 in 2016 to 365,660 last year.

Cruz may not be a nuclear physicist  but he can easily do the math and see that there is much to be gained in the 2024 Republican primaries from backing Trump now.