Ted Cruz scored a major win with conservative activists Saturday at the Freedomworks 9/12 Grassroots Summit in Orlando Florida.
The summit was attended by some 2,500 grassroots conservative and libertarian activists from across the nation. The summit was basically a networking convention of sorts for activists and various conservative organizations. Glenn Beck, Andrew Wilkow, Steve Moore, C.L. Bryant, Ron DeSantis, John Fleming, Tim Huelskamp, Thomas Massie, Mark Meadows, and Ted Yoho were among the event speakers.
No presidential candidates spoke at the event.
Summit organizers held a straw poll of the 2,500 attendees on Saturday and Ted Cruz dominated the field. Cruz came it at 41%, followed by Ben Carson at a distant 2nd place with 12%, and Donald Trump took 3rd place at 8%. Interestingly Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both from Florida failed to make the top three in the event held in their home state.
Janet Spencer, a conservative grassroots activist from Myrtle Beach SC attended the summit as a volunteer for Freedomworks. Spencer said that while she was there she also helped set up and man a Ted Cruz campaign table. “There was so much support for Cruz here. Activists crowded our table wanting to sign up and asking for materials. It was very exciting to see so much enthusiasm.” Spencer said.
Saturday was a busy day for Cruz as he spoke at the Eagle Council, an annual event of the Eagle Forum run by conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. Cruz reportedly brought down the house during his speech at the event. Sheri Few, a conservative grassroots activist from Lugoff SC who led Michele Bachmann’s 2012 SC campaign efforts attended the Eagle Council and said that, “There is no doubt that Cruz was the star of Eagle Council in St Louis this weekend. There were so many standing ovations and claps that I was exhausted when he was done speaking. There was no other candidate who even came close to the response he had and the place was packed, whereas other candidates drew much smaller crowds.” Cruz has the endorsement of the Texas eagle Forum, though the national Eagle Forum has yet to endorse a candidate.
Cruz also spoke Saturday evening to an enthusiastic crowd at the biennial National Federation of Republican Women convention in Phoenix.
While Donald Trump has dominated all recent national and early primary state polls with Carson in a strong second place, Cruz has continued to win many conservative activist and GOP polls. Cruz has also recently garnered the endorsement of key conservative and evangelical organizations and individuals including the Gun Owners of America Association, The National Federation of republican Assemblies, Georgia Right to Life, Gongressman Jim Bridenstine, Iowa kingmaker and influential evangelical columnist Steve Deace, and David Barton, an influential Christian author and GOP leader.
Cruz’s campaign has also been announcing leadership committees in states across the nation on nearly a daily basis, as well as additions of dozens of names to already announced committees in the early states. Cruz also has announced a national military coalition, as well as “milliennials” and teens national coalitions in recent days.
Leading polls is a two edged sword as WI Governor Scott Walker can attest. For several months Walker led most polls by a large margin, especially in Iowa. But over the last month Walker has gone from 1st place with high as 30%, all the way down to 7-10th place and as low as 3% in all of the recent national and early state polls. Perhaps feeling his rapid and sudden implosion, Walker is said to have canceled an appearance at the California GOP convention next week, a sign that Walker may be scaling back his campaign efforts as he looks to exit the race.
In 2012, Rick Perry exploded early in the polls becoming the clear frontrunner. But after a few weeks of leading the polls, Perry saw a rapid decline and dropped out before the SC primaries. Hoping to stage a comeback in 2016, Perry again entered the race, but after anemic fundraising and poll numbers at or below 1%, Perry dropped from the 2016 race on Friday. Also leading the polls at various times during the 2012 cycle were Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, both who saw their campaigns unravel within a few weeks of their leading the pack.
Polling history data shows that leading early, especially by large margins is almost always a major political liability, especially in a crowded field of candidates where multiple candidates have the chance to lay low, and then suddenly emerge knocking off the leader. Those who lead the field to be knocked down rarely recover as they suffer from over exposure burnout.
2016 has an unusually crowded field of qualified candidates, though the field seems to be rapidly narrowing. There are six months (an eternity in politics) to go before the first caucuses and primaries. It will be interesting to see who is standing in the end.
However, two things always hold true in politics: Early political polling is about as accurate as predicting the weather on a given day two years in the future. And winning polls without laying a serious national groundwork of grassroots activist support will not carry someone across the finish line.
By Javan Browder, Managing Editor – Conservative Fifty Dot Com