WASHINGTON, December 14, 2015 – When Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced he was running for the Republican Party’s nomination for president last March, he posed a political science thought experiment to his Liberty University audience,
“Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across America coming out to the polls and voting our values.”
Last Thursday, influential Iowa Evangelical Christian leader Bob Vader Plaats sought to make Cruz’s idea a reality by endorsing the conservative Texas presidential hopeful.
“At the end of the day, we truly believe that Ted Cruz is the most consistent and principled conservative who has the ability to not only win Iowa, but I believe to win the [Republican] nomination,” Plaats told The Des Moines Register.
He added that Cruz
“has not been embraced by the Washington establishment community, on either side of the aisle. So he’s still viewed as that outside candidate who really knows how this thing works and what needs to be changed.”
When Iowa’s conservative Representative Steve King endorsed Cruz last November, he told POLITICO,
“Victory requires that he [the GOP nominee] energize Christian conservatives for [a] large turnout. Some said that didn’t happen four years ago… we can’t have that again. å[The GOP nominee has] got to be able to inspire Christian conservatives.”
Then The Des Moines Register reported a remarkable surge by Cruz in Iowa over the weekend,
“Cruz, a Texas U.S. senator famous for defying party leaders and using government shutdown tactics to hold up funding for the Obamacare health care law and abortion provider Planned Parenthood, was the favorite of 10 percent of likely Republican caucus-goers in the last Iowa Poll in October. He’s now at 31 percent… Trump’s highest support was 23 percent back in August, when he led the field by 5 points.”
According to a study conducted by the American Culture & Faith Institute,
“Among the national sample of spiritually active Christian conservatives and moderates, only one in ten (10%) said their church has been very involved in the election process in the last two voting cycles (2012, 2014). Four out of ten said their church was somewhat involved. The remaining one-half said their church was not involved.”
Last August, Cruz addressed a gathering of Iowa evangelicals,
“You wonder why we have a federal government that comes after our free-speech rights, that comes after our religious liberty, that comes after life, that comes after marriage, that comes after our values – it is because 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home [during the 2012 presidential election]. Well, I’m here to tell you, we will stay home no longer.”
Doyle McManus, the Washington columnist for the Los Angeles Times, argues that in the past
“Iowa’s GOP caucuses, heavy with evangelical Christians, haven’t been a good barometer of sentiment among voters in other states.”
However, Doyle says Cruz supporters disagree, saying that
“anger at both President Obama and the Republican establishment is deep enough not merely to nominate an insurgent like Cruz, but also to enable him to win the general election in November.”
A just-released NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Hillary Clinton leads Ted Cruz by a slim 3 percent – well within the margin of error.
“If the body of Christ rises up as one and votes our values,” Cruz told a gathering of Des Moines evangelicals last November, “we can turn this country around.”
While much of the media has focused on the disaffected Donald Trump voter, it may turn out that 2016 is the year of the conservative evangelical.
Provided Ted Cruz can convince them to get their heads out of the clouds long enough to vote.