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Can Ted Cruz win? 11 things to know about 2016’s first candidate

Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz
Mark Wilson / Getty
Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

  1. Today, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) became the first major candidate of either party to officially announce — two weeks ahead of an expected announcement by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
  2. Cruz is currently in eighth place in national polls, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages. He trails Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio. His position in early state polls is similar.
  3. Rather than announcing in his home state of Texas, Cruz's in-person announcement will be at Virginia's Liberty University, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. This is part of Cruz's strategy to unite Christian evangelical voters with Tea Party supporters, writes Bloomberg Politics.
  4. Cruz hopes to raise $40 million to $50 million overall in the primaries, the Houston Chronicle's Theodore Schleifer reports. By contrast, there's speculation that Jeb Bush could raise $100 million by the end of this month, and $500 million by June.
  5. Cruz knows he won't be the candidate of the GOP's establishment wing. Indeed, he's trying to turn that to his advantage. "It's worth remembering, when Reagan ran, Washington despised Reagan," he said last month, adding, "I am convinced 2016 is going to be an election very much like 1980."
  6. Cruz is used to long-shot campaigns. In his first run for Senate in Texas, he "began as a blip in the polls," the "establishment was against him," and "he knew he would be outspent," Shane Goldmacher writes.
  7. At CPAC in February, Cruz listed the top five agenda items he'd pursue as president: repealing "every blasted word of Obamacare," abolishing the IRS and putting its agents on our southern border, stopping "out-of-control regulators" like the EPA, defending our constitutional rights, and restoring American leadership in the world.
  8. Cruz is likely to hammer his rivals from the right on immigration. He vociferously argues against any proposal that would give "amnesty" to unauthorized immigrants — candidates like Scott Walker and Marco Rubio have previously supported proposals to grant most of those immigrants legal status, and Jeb Bush still does.
  9. While Cruz would be one of the most conservative candidates in the GOP field, in recent months his rhetoric has sometimes sounded like Elizabeth Warren's. He said in January that the economy was only working for the "top 1 percent," who have gotten "fat and happy" under Obama.
  10. Cruz has already made some key hires, including GOP operative Jeff Roe, who was described to the Examiner's David Drucker as a "mean, bare-knuckles brawler" who knows the early primary states well.
  11. Some Democrats are already piling on Cruz — Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) said Sunday that Cruz's views on climate science displayed "ignorance" and made him "absolutely unfit to be running for office." Others, however, are salivating in anticipation of a Cruz run, as you can see in this joking image:

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