December 18th, 2018


How Cruz supporters differ from Trump fans

Albert Hunt

By Albert Hunt Bloomberg View

Published Jan. 19, 2016

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are way ahead in the race to win the Iowa caucuses, perhaps to capture the Republican nomination too. Both appeal to alienated conservative voters who say they've had it with the Republican establishment.

Yet their supporters are different. In Iowa, which holds the first Presidential contest on Feb. 1, Trump, the New York businessman and reality-TV star, is more popular with those who say they're most concerned about economics or guns. Texas Sen. Cruz does better with voters who are religious conservatives and say they care most about values. These distinctions are worth watching.

According to Ann Selzer's latest Iowa Poll -- done for Bloomberg Politics and the Des Moines Register -- there is considerable crossover appeal among Cruz and Trump voters. The Texan has a small overall lead in Iowa over the billionaire mogul. Trump's support is a bit more solid while Cruz appears to have a better chance to grow his base before caucus day.

Yet Selzer finds interesting differences. Three out of five Cruz backers say social issues are "extremely" important to them. Two in five Trump supporters say the same thing. Similarly, 84 percent of Cruz backers say a candidate's values matter a lot, a third more than Trump voters. Cruz supporters are much more likely to describe themselves as deeply religious.

Trump's flock is more geared to the economy and his promise to bring it back. Taxes, for example, are "extremely important" to the majority of Trump backers. Not so for Cruz people. Enthusiasm for gun rights, according to the Selzer survey, also resonates more with the Trump brigade.

There are some hard-to-explain findings. Among Republicans who expect to attend a caucus, Trump beats Cruz among those who make more than $100,000 and less than $50,000. Cruz does better with those in between. More Cruz supporters call themselves capitalists than backers of his businessman opponent.

Likely caucus-goers who say they voted in the 2012 caucus for George Romney, the party's eventual presidential nominee, split close to evenly on the two main contenders this time. But of those who voted last time for more conservative aspirants like Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich, Cruz wins handily. Trump runs ahead of his rivals with likely voters who say they didn't attend a caucus in 2012.

Trump has no government experience and Cruz has a little, but that doesn't appear to be an issue in Iowa. Only 13 percent of the likely Republican caucus-goers there consider experience a top priority.

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Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was formerly the executive editor of Bloomberg News, directing coverage of the Washington bureau. Hunt hosts the weekly television show "Political Capital with Al Hunt." In his four decades at the Wall Street Journal, he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor, and wrote the weekly column "Politics & People." Hunt also directed the Journal's polls, was president of the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund and a board member of the Ottaway community newspapers. He was a panelist on the CNN programs "The Capital Gang" and "Novak, Hunt & Shields." He is co-author of books on U.S. elections by the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution.