In news that’s sure to surprise everyone, Ted Cruz is wrong.
Specifically (i.e., this time), Cruz is wrong about his claim that the Democratic Party is shrinking — a claim he made last month, in the wake of the first Democratic presidential debate. Politifact got a hold of his remarks recently and, unsurprisingly, rated his claim “mostly false” — and that he could get such a rating without conservatives praising him and hollering his virtues from the highest rooftop just serves to highlight how much his orbit around the Republican Party has decayed in the last few months.
Now, in his defense, he’s popular enough to have a coloring book, and it’s for sale on Amazon. I’ve heard it even comes with a pack of 50 crayons selected just for his audience, all of them pale, and at least some are ones used by Cruz to sign legislation. That’s at least worth the shipping and handling, anyway.
“. . . [T]he modern Democratic Party is getting smaller and smaller and smaller”
According to Ted Cruz, the “modern Democratic Party” is shrinking faster than his chance of winning the Republican nomination.
He made the claim while speaking to Megyn Kelly, his favorite person, the day after the first Democratic presidential debate, and he came to that conclusion by interpreting the crowd’s cheer for proposals to raise taxes as proof.
He actually came to the conclusion to dodge the question — Kelly asked Cruz how he could hope to appeal to Americans voting for Bernie Sanders, who stressed how much more the very wealthiest Americans have — but who’s keeping tabs? Not me, that’s for sure; I hardly noticed he didn’t answer the question:
“Well,” Cruz replied, “it’s why the modern Democratic Party is getting smaller and smaller and smaller. What does it say that they’re having a hard time finding anyone to run for president who isn’t nearly 207 years old? You’re not getting new and fresh ideas.”
I’d make a joke about Ronald Reagan here, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t out of his first century when he won in the 80s.
Cruz’s campaign spokesman rushed to clarify, saying that Cruz based his statements on the midterm hammering the Dems took in 2014, and that Cruz was “referring to all the Senate seats, House seats, governors and state legislative seats lost during this administration.”
Unsurprisingly, this turns out this is a rather poor metric for determining party affiliation by itself, and that determining the exact size of a political party, even in an inchoate partocracy like the United States, is harder than it seems:
Measuring the exact membership or size of either national party is difficult. Some states, including Texas, do not require voters to register with any party. As University of Texas-Austin government professor Brian Roberts, who studies American political institutions and interest groups, told us, there’s “no easy answer.”
According to University of Texas-Austin government professor Sean Theriault, there are three measurements for evaluating the size and strength of a political party: “the party in the government, the party in the electorate and party organizations.”
Given those three metrics, how well does Cruz’s claim fair? Not well. While the Democrats did lose more than a few positions in government over the last few years, the Democratic party is still a very stable party in terms of support, according to a Gallup Poll that shows the number of Democrats slowly increasing from 2004 to the present.
Their demographics hint that the party is doing well, too; a 2014 Pew Research Center study showed that 51% of Millennials identified as Democrats, and the Democrats also had high membership claims from Generation X and the Baby Boomers. The only group they didn’t score well with was the Silent Generation, who are still Republican.
So that’s “party in the government” and “party in the electorate,” what about party organizations?
Turns out, the Democrats are surprisingly strong on the fundraising front — stronger than the GOP, in fact, by a large margin:
Party organizations, and their success in fundraising, are also a component of a political party’s health or size. In the 2010 off-year election cycle, the national Democratic Party raised $817.5 million. In the 2014 election cycle, the most recent available, the party raised $855 million, which suggests an increase of $37.5 million in the 2014 election cycle, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Theriault had this to say about the Democratic party: “the Democratic Party is getting bigger and is bigger than the Republican Party.”
In total, and in conclusion, Politifact noted:
Cruz’s claim is partly accurate, but leaves out important context about the Democratic Party beyond its elected officials. We rate this claim Mostly False.
That “partly accurate” is important, since that’s the best he’s ever going to get.
Feature image via Flickr