Democrats pin tail on Ted Cruz

My contention is that the budget battle of the past few weeks holds no special advantage for either party.

Activist voters from both parties who regularly keep up with politics view the latest battle through their own perceptual lenses and see what they want to see. “We’re winning, yahoo!” 

But most voters tuned out long ago and just hear, “Blah, blah, blah.”

As I have said in this space before, these “inattentives” will mostly vote against incumbents in the next election, or not vote at all.

The national public polls on Texas Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE (R), a central and polarizing figure in the latest conflicts, confirms all this for me.

One telltale sign that voters need a program to watch the game is that some polls have to identify Cruz to get a take on him.

Gallup’s latest poll, taken Oct. 3-6, asked poll respondents whether they have a favorable or unfavorable impression of “Texas Senator Ted Cruz.”

What’s up with that? How biasing can they get?

If this is such a hot-knife-through-butter topic, why did Gallup feel the need to locate Cruz in Texas? They probably anticipated, correctly, that they’d have to mention Texas — the state that gave America George W. Bush — to get a rise out of some know-nothings.

Interestingly, even given the hint, 26 percent of Americans told Gallup interviewers that they’d never heard of him, and another 13 percent didn’t know enough to have either a favorable or unfavorable impression of Cruz.

Perhaps Americans in places like Wisconsin were left wondering whether he’s the long tall Texan senator with the silver, hair-sprayed mane or the shorter pugnacious one with the pomade-enhanced shiny coiffure. Choices, choices, choices. It’s all so confusing.

The latest Pew poll, taken Oct. 9-13, doesn’t add a hint, and still finds that four in 10 Americans don’t know enough to say much about Cruz.

An even more recent YouGov poll, taken Oct. 16-17, finds that only about half of adults hold strong feelings about Cruz. (And I am skeptical that an online poll of “adults” on the name ID of an emerging figure is comparable to that of a phone poll; getting on the Internet to do a survey requires a level of literacy not required for a phone poll. But that’s a debate for a different day.)

Looking at the “informed” opinion in these polls, people who allegedly knew enough to have an opinion of such a supposedly divisive figure, it’s only the Democratic base that knows to hate the Texan.

In the YouGov poll, only 34 percent of the sample had a very unfavorable impression of Cruz. That’s mostly just the liberal and Democratic base. In the more reliable Pew poll, 33 percent had any sort of unfavorable impression — strong or weak — of Cruz.

Again, that’s the Democratic base.

Somewhere out there, some Democratic mail and digital strategists are licking their lips. At last, they have a David Duke demonic Republican who gets their party faithful’s juices flowing.

Money rolls in. Angry volunteers show up on fire to walk neighborhoods. GOTV gets easier. GOP operatives have milked this angle for ages, making House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Republicans are headed for a disappointing end to their year in power Obama's HHS secretary could testify in Menendez trial MORE (Nev.) and former Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) the butt of endless partisan entreaties.

Except for fleecing some hyperpartisan donors, I think the benefit of having a foil like Cruz or Reid is overstated.

But operatives love it, and Cruz can expect to be abused inside the donkey party like a rented mule. My best guess is that he’ll enjoy it, but that’s another topic for another day.

The only genuinely interesting angle in the Cruz polls is that he gets so little love, typically about 25 to 30 percent favorable ratings, in all the polls above.

Hill is a pollster who has worked for Republican campaigns and causes since 1984.