Just a few weeks ago, Ted Cruz was within striking distance of Donald Trump in California, 39 percent to 32 percent. The assumption of many (including me) has been that Trump has a ceiling — as the front-runner’s controversies mounted, the undecideds were looking for an un-Trump they could support.
Instead in the last two weeks, it is Cruz who is hitting a hard cap on his support, while Trump surges again. The latest CBS poll shows Trump gaining massive ground, rising to 49 percent while Cruz stays at 31 percent.
What is happening? Two weeks without a disgust-invoking moment from Trump certainly helps. But it looks to me that Cruz’s embrace by the establishment GOP, tentative though it may be, is resonating with Trump’s “voter-less victory” charges to Cruz’s disadvantage.
Throughout this campaign cycle, 60 percent of GOP voters have sided with an outsider, shifting their proportions around from Trump to Cruz to Ben Carson to Carly Fiorina at various moments.
The one most powerful message GOP voters are sending is they dislike their own party.
The un-Trump sentiment is not nearly as strong as the anti-Washington GOP sentiment.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.