Reputation Audit: Ted Cruz

May 23, 2014, 1:48 PM GMT+0

Ted Cruz faces stiff competition if he has any grander aspirations for his career, but he could have an edge in the primaries as he is seen as one of the most conservative GOP politicians around

One public favorite of the Tea Party, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, gets positive marks from Republicans, but falls short – as so many potential 2016 potential GOP candidates do – when it comes to presidential qualifications. And GOP Tea Party supporters in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll find several other possibilities even more likeable than Cruz.

In fact, among both Republicans in general and among GOP Tea Party supporters, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul are viewed more positively than the Texas Senator. However, there is a little more negative feeling from the GOP about Paul than about either Ryan or Cruz.

When it comes to the overall public, Cruz gets mixed reviews. 29% view him favorably, and 30% are unfavorable. Those ratings are similar to those given Rand Paul (36% favorable, 36% not favorable). The other Republican possibilities included in this poll get mixed (former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and Florida Senator Marco Rubio) or even negative (New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush) assessments form the overall public.

Cruz’s ideology is a big plus for those who like him. In fact more than half of Republicans (57%) describe Cruz as a conservative. That is a higher percentage from the mostly conservative party identifiers than they give any of the other GOP possibilities with the exception of Mike Huckabee. Last month, nearly two-thirds of Republicans thought of Huckabee as a conservative.

Conservative is one of the main words those who like Cruz choose when asked to describe him. Slightly fewer mention honesty. But when people who are unfavorable about the Senator describe him, many use far more personal references. However, just as in last month’s reputation audit of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, another Hispanic American, very few of even the negative characterizations of Cruz revolve around his ethnicity.

Ted Cruz could face one issue that some of his supporters have used against President Obama – perceived eligibility for the White House. Cruz was born outside the United States (in Canada) to an American mother and a non-American father. Overall, 39% say Cruz is legally eligible to serve as President. So do 55% of Republicans. Many just aren’t sure.

Most Americans also aren’t sure what Cruz’s birth status is. Only 10% (overall AND among Republicans) know he was born outside the United States to a mother who was an American citizen and a father who was not.

That status – born outside the United States to an American mother who was an American citizen and a non-American father (which a third of Republicans believe is the case for President Obama) – is one that most Americans believe would keep Cruz from being classified as a “natural born” citizen of the United States. 52% of Republicans agree. Of course, most people -- Republican and non-Republicans alike –don’t know where Cruz was born.

Cruz has outspokenness and honesty in his favor. Among the public overall, more say he is likely to say what he really believes (35%) than think he says mostly what people want to hear (24%). But Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Paul Ryan are also seen as straight talking by Americans. Among Republicans, 55% say Cruz mostly says what he believes. Just one in ten Republicans disagree.

And 45% of Republicans believe Cruz is more honest than most people in public life.

But Americans aren’t sure Cruz is qualified for the Presidency and there is no sizable upwelling of support for a Cruz run in 2016, even among Republicans or Republicans who say they support the goals of the Tea Party. Just one in five overall say Cruz has the right presidential qualifications, along with 40% of Republicans.

Should Cruz run? By two to one, Americans with an opinion don’t want him to. While more Republicans say he should, nearly half of them have no opinion as of yet. And many Tea Party Republicans are also unsure about whether or not they want a Cruz candidacy.

Image: Getty

Full results can be found here.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here.