Texas likely to be an early primary state in 2016

Texas Tribune:
With the 2014 election now in the history books, the reality is that the 2016 campaign is upon us. And you can expect Texas to get more time in the spotlight now that the 2016 GOP presidential primary is a main attraction.

Four candidates with direct or indirect connections to the Lone Star State are on most early lists of top potential candidates: Gov. Rick Perry, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and two scions of families with strong Texas ties — U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the son of former Texas Congressman (and frequent presidential aspirant) Ron Paul, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the son and brother of the former presidents from Texas.

Texans will also go to the polls earlier in the primary season than they did in 2012, when the legal fight over Texas’ redistricting map delayed the election until May. This time, Texas is considering a March 1 primary — the earliest date allowed after the Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada contests. Texas’ delegate count is more than those four states’ combined and second only to California’s in total size. Given the possible lack of a Mitt Romney-like front-runner, this could make Texas far more consequential in the primary process. If this order holds, whoever wins the state will likely automatically claim top-tier status.

University of Texas/Texas Tribune polling this year reflects the development of Cruz and Perry as the id and ego of the Texas GOP, respectively. Not shockingly, given the tenor of GOP politics in the state, the id has led the way among Texas Republicans this year. While these results are strongly influenced by current state factors, there’s little reason to think that these assessments won’t influence Texans’ vote in 2016.

Cruz has consistently led in these speculative 2016 matchups, though Perry gained ground in the most recent survey, likely elevated by his deployment of the National Guard to the border — a hit among almost all voters, but an especially popular move among Republicans.
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At this point, Ted Cruz's popularity with Tea Party votes appears to give him an edge, but I suspect the race will be influenced by the results in the early primary and caucus states.  There appears to be no clear frontrunner at this point and all four of the candidates mentioned have strong detractors.  But if the candidates are still viable by the time of the Texas vote their Texas ties will probably have an influence.

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