The Clinton Versus Cruz Race

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The possibility of a Clinton versus Cruz race is becoming increasingly possible as Clinton continues to develop her lead over Sanders, and Trump risks losing votes with antics - such as attacking Cruz’s wife and frequently directing the conversation away from politics to personal criticisms. Amazingly, Cruz has gradually risen in popularity as Clinton has fallen; on average, polls place Clinton at 46.7% of voters with Cruz at a close 43.8%.

On the issues, Hillary Clinton is pro-immigration reform with paths to citizenship, whereas Ted Cruz is in line with Trump, emphasizing a “wall that works” and to end “sanctuary cities.” Clinton has put criminal justice reform up as one of her central issues, pledging to end private prisons, and while Cruz has in the past surprised his fellow Republicans by supporting similar legislation, stating he wanted to end "overcriminalization, harsh mandatory minimum sentences, and the demise of jury trials," he has since abandoned this position.

Both candidates clearly differentiate themselves from the other in terms of their stance on abortion, with Clinton having a long history of being pro-choice, and Cruz having a proven record of defending pro-life legislation. Yet when it comes to marriage equality, the two candidates had more in common, until Hillary switched positions, and came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013.

As for guns, the difference is as clear as day. Cruz wants to protect American’s second amendment from any restrictions, while Clinton wants to instate what she calls “common sense reforms,” and close background check loopholes.

Both Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton have been playing the political game of trying to excite the base while courting the votes of the moderate, and both have been facing the same problems. For one, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have been doing better jobs at gathering the support of their respective bases. In response, Ted Cruz has challenged Trump to a race to the right, while trying to maintain his image as a family man that won’t stoop to Trump’s bombastic rhetoric.

In this race, however, all candidates are getting swept into the debate over hand size, and the respectability of their wives. Similarly, Hillary has moved to the left, in an effort to pull Sanders supporters to her side – though she has managed to keep her centrist credentials, an important distinction that could help her in the general election.

Another obstacle, is that many find the idea of a Clinton/Cruz choice to be a choice between two unlikable candidates. In fact, Unlikable is the title of a new biography on the former first lady, who has sought advice from film director Steven Spielberg on how to present herself as a “strong but likable older women.” Some feminists have framed this criticism as a gender issue, pointing to the fact that male candidates aren’t asked to smile more or speak more quietly.

Ted Cruz, however, has faced plenty of flak for his face as well. One neurologist at George Washington University has even offered a scientific reason why people might find Cruz’s facial expressions displeasing. Dr. Richard E. Cytowic writes of the infamous Cruz smile, “downturned expressions usually signal disagreeableness or disgust... such an expression is rare in the context of public presentations that are meant to win people over.” His former Princeton roommate, Craig Mazin, who has amassed a large Twitter following by expressing his hatred of the U.S. Senator from Texas, suggested that Cruz never had any close friends in college, and was especially disliked by the girls in the dorms that thought he was “creepy” for habitually putting on a bathrobe to walk through their end of the hall.

His likability among women could become an important issue for Cruz in the general election if he were to be running against the potential first female president.

A glimpse of how Ted Cruz would lead a campaign against Hillary Clinton can be seen in a TV ad, that aired early last month. Clinton is showed smashing a computer, in a parody of a scene from the 1999 comedy, “Office Space,” while a rapper sings: “It feels good to be a Clinton...‘Cause a Clinton never needs to explain what, why it is what they done, or with who.” It references Clinton’s email scandal, which is sure to come up in the general election no matter who she faces, while at the same time paints her as a Washington insider that gets special treatment. Cruz, by implication, is presented as an outsider.

On the other side, Clinton has already taken aim at Cruz and his comments that he would carpet bomb ISIS. "Promising to carpet bomb until the desert glows doesn't make you sound strong,” Clinton said. “It makes you sound like you're in over your head." We can expect Clinton will expand on this theme in a Clinton vs. Cruz election, using her former role as Secretary of State to support the idea that she, not Cruz, has the foreign policy experience needed to be commander in chief.

Last April, Hillary Clinton enjoyed a strong lead of 11.3 points over Ted Cruz in the polls, but Cruz has managed to close that gap. For most of this year polls showed him winning a general election against Clinton, but the most recent polls show Clinton winning with a 2.9 lead. If the two both make it to the general election, it seems likely that we will continue to see the numbers seesaw back and forth, as both candidates maneuver to pick up votes to their right and to their left.

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