Well, this is an interesting development.
Somehow GOP presidential contenders Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz are currently tied with Texas voters, according to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll issued this week.
We're not kidding. Four months away from the Texas Republican primary both Cruz and Trump have managed to snag 27 percent of likely Republican voters, with Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio trailing the two show ponies by a large gap.
This is fascinating for a couple of reasons. For one thing, just a few months ago Trump was — and indeed still well may be — the biggest prank ever played on the Republican party. After all, with the hair and the voice and the reputation for being, well, Trump, it didn't seem possible that he would really make a run at the GOP nomination for the White House, let alone be topping the polls right here in the Lone Star State of all places. But somehow he's still in the race and it's not likely that he'll ultimately get the Republican nod, but it's also not completely impossible. It's strange but true.
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And then there's Cruz. Cruz probably came out of the womb plastered with "Cruz for President" paraphernalia. Ever since he managed to get elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 — it was one of the biggest upsets of the 2012 election — Cruz has done everything short of toting "Cruz 2016" banners onto the Senate floor to announce that he intended to go for the White House. He has made his political career out of running as far to the right as possible, playing his self-cast role as a Conservative standard-bearer to the hilt, and opposing anything that even smelled like a hint of compromise. It seemed inevitable that he would run, but still far-fetched that anyone — even the Tea Party conservatives who so adore him — would look at Cruz and see a serious candidate.
And yet, here he is, neck and neck with Trump in a Texas poll and looking more and more like a reasonable candidate alongside the still-cartoonish antics of the Donald. But there's one thing that is very important to remember: Cruz only looks reasonable because he's next to Trump. There's been a lot of shocked discussion lately about how there's actually a way that Cruz could end up scoring the nomination — something we pointed out ages ago — since it was clear that anyone, even Cruz, would be able to come across as looking like an electable candidate next to Trump.
In fact, some have said that Cruz is intent on playing up those optics and that he's basically piggy-backing on Trump and being nice to the Donald on the campaign trail in the hopes that if/when Trump flames out, he'll be able to pick up the Trump supporters and then secure the nomination for himself. It's definitely an interesting idea; even former-Gov. Rick Perry tried to play off Trump for his own purposes during his own failed presidential bid, but that didn't turn out so well.
Maybe things won't spin out that way — a lot can happen within 24 hours of an election alone, and we still have four months to go before the primaries — but if they do, fingers crossed that Cruz picks Trump for his running mate. It would certainly make for an entertaining race.