On the eve of the South Carolina primary Cruz insiders are reportedly privately beginning to fear that a big loss to Donald Trump would signal more defeats in the SEC states.
What if the firewall crumbles?
That’s the worry of a growing number of people close to Ted Cruz’s campaign, who are privately beginning to fear that a big loss in South Carolina to Donald Trump on Saturday could signal more defeats to come in the so-called SEC states that are the lynchpin of Cruz’s strategy.
Advertisement - story continues below
“If they’re pretty far back from Trump and they can’t get southern conservative evangelicals in South Carolina, I do think they’re probably going to have a hard time elsewhere,” said Erick Erickson, a conservative writer in touch with Cruz’s team. “I sense a real fear from people that if Trump blows everybody out of the water in South Carolina, that he is suddenly unstoppable.”
Cruz’s team once envisioned South Carolina as a rubber match between Trump, the New Hampshire victor, and Cruz, the Iowa winner. Now, it’s being read as an omen of what’s to come in 10 days’ time when Southern states vote on Super Tuesday.
Cruz once called the God-fearing, gun-toting SEC states that vote then on March 1 his “firewall,” but polls show Trump leading in South Carolina, and a dominant performance Saturday would show that Cruz has not been able to sufficiently consolidate the evangelical base that he needs to win down the road in places like Tennessee and Georgia.