I recently came across an article that explained why Trump has been winning in the South better than anything else I’ve seen. It also helps explain why Trump’s been beating Cruz there even though one would think it’s territory that’s much more favorable to Cruz.
But before I get into that, let me take a step back and describe how I see the Cruz campaign from a 30,000 ft view.
I believe Sen. Cruz made two fundamental mistakes in his campaign so far, particularly with regards to winning the South. The first is one I’ve already written about extensively, which is that he misjudged the level of religious fervor in the evangelical community, especially when it comes to voting based on social and moral issues.
Cruz’s second mistake in his appeal to southern republican voters is that he focused on the wrong issues. I’ve listened to many of his campaign speeches on the trail, and he often talks about religious liberty, second amendment rights, and killing terrorists.
While those are all very important issues, I would argue that they aren’t the most important issues to southerners. For these voters, especially in towns and rural areas where businesses have left and jobs have disappeared, the economy, trade, illegal immigration, and jobs are the most important issues because they all directly impact them and their families.
As the article points out, many areas around the south are being devastated by global competition and the horrible business environment and economic conditions created by the Obama administration.
Many southerners in these areas are losing their jobs, having their hours cut, or are getting their wages reduced. They also don’t have enough money to pay for healthcare costs, or for their kids’ education, among other things.
As much as I hate to admit this, there’s only one candidate in the race who’s focusing on the needs of this group of disaffected voters, and that’s Donald Trump.
The other candidates might mention it here and there, but it hasn’t been the focus of their campaigns.
Trump repeats over and over again how he’ll bring jobs back from China, Mexico, and other parts of the world. He talks about how he’ll build a wall and stop illegal immigration, so workers won’t have to compete with illegal immigrants for lower wages.
Of course he doesn’t have a clue how he’d solve any of these problems, and he could care less about the suffering of the people he’s speaking to, but that’s irrelevant because they believe him.
It’s very simple. These voters want jobs, and they want more money in their pockets. They believe Trump has been a successful businessman his entire life, despite evidence to the contrary, and has created many jobs, therefore he’ll create jobs for them as president.
They view Sen. Cruz as more of a typical politician, or a lawyer. In their minds he’d probably make a better supreme court justice than a president. The southerners I’m talking about just wanna be reassured that the candidate they vote for has their backs and will improve their lives. Trump reassures them he’ll do that, it’s part of his con job.
If Cruz wants to start winning over these blue collar voters, not just in the South, but in the West and Midwest, he needs to start talking about the issues that affect them in their day to day lives- meeting them where they’re at, so to speak.
In this political and economic environment, it’s not enough to just be a conservative and say you’ll fight to reduce the size of gov’t. People wanna know exactly how you’re gonna help them, and then believe that you’d do what you promise as president.
I think Sen. Cruz needs to spend less time on the trail talking in ideological and philosophical terms, and more time on the practical and very real concerns of the average blue collar voter in the South and beyond. I believe if he does this he can peel away some of the voters who still haven’t made up their minds in the remaining states, and at least prevent Trump from winning the nomination outright.
There’s an issue that no candidate on the campaign trail is talking about, which ironic because it’s arguably the most important issue the country faces, and that’s entitlement reform.
I think Sen. Cruz needs to start talking about it, and that if he does it will give him an advantage over Trump with undecided voters.
I already know the criticism this idea will receive among some conservatives. They’ll say it’s an issue that voters don’t care about because it doesn’t affect their every day lives.
That’s where they’re wrong. If social security, medicare, and medicaid aren’t reformed soon, both programs will run out of money, and all of the elderly and sick people who need them will no longer receive those benefits.
In fact, the Social Security Disability Fund is predicted to run out of money this year. If that happens it will trigger an automatic cut in benefits for those disabled people dependent on the program.
Sen. Cruz needs to go after Donald Trump on this issue, and hard. People will say Chris Christie tried to make entitlement reform the center of his campaign and he failed, but he went about it the wrong way. He made it all about the future and spoke about it purely in economic terms. Also, people didn’t take his candidacy seriously at the time he raised this issue, so everyone tuned him out. They won’t do that now with Sen. Cruz.
The argument for voting against Trump on this issue alone is a simple yet powerful one. Trump is promising to help blue collar workers all over this country, as I’ve described above, by doing things like building a wall, bringing jobs back from overseas, and giving everyone affordable healthcare.
But he won’t be able to do any of those things if the country is bankrupt, which it will be if social security and medicare aren’t reformed. There simply won’t be enough money to do any of the things Trump is promising to do if he becomes president.
Sen. Cruz needs to speak directly to the people dependent on these programs. He should tell them that if they vote for Trump, they’re voting to cut their own benefits because Trump has promised he won’t reform the programs, and on their current trajectory, they’re fiscally insolvent and will have to be cut.
Sen. Cruz, on the other hand, has a plan to reform these programs for future generations while preserving them for current beneficiaries.
But Trump’s lack of a plan to solve this problem won’t just hurt people now, it’ll leave the country much worse off for our kids and grand-kids.
According to the CBO, if we don’t reform entitlements, they’ll consume all tax revenues by 2052. That means there won’t be any money left over for domestic spending to do things such as building a border wall or providing healthcare for those who need it. The only way to make up for this lost money would be to dramatically raise taxes.
Do you want your taxes raised? If so vote for Trump, otherwise you should vote for Sen. Cruz.
If I’m being honest, I’m disappointed that Sen. Cruz hasn’t made this an issue on the campaign trail. I believe it’s a real weakness for Trump, if it’s presented in the way I’ve described it here, that connects with the voters on a personal level.
It’s not too late. If Sen. Cruz wants to win over these blue collar voters that Trump has been beating him with, he needs to raise the issues that are the most relevant to them and expose Trump’s lack of any plan to get the out of control spending in DC under control. There can only be one candidate who is seen as the fighter for the working men and women of America, and Cruz deserves to be that candidate. But he has to make the argument first. I hope he starts doing so soon.