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Ted Cruz struggles to explain fiasco of his own making

Associated Press

Back in August, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) assured his fellow Republicans that a "tsunami" of public support was on the way. If the GOP fought to take away health care benefits and shut down the federal government, everything would turn out great.

Cruz no doubt considers himself a man of many talents, but political prognostications don't appear to be his strength. Neither, it turns out, is the ability to read a poll.

The "tsunami" certainly didn't materialize, and Republicans' popularity, which was weak before, is abysmal now. The party hoped to avoid blame for the shutdown crisis, and that hasn't worked out, either. One would like to assume Cruz is feeling a little sheepish right about now.

Except, as David Drucker reports, the right-wing Texan is actually doubling down on his bad bet.

Sen. Ted Cruz during a closed-door lunch on Wednesday argued to his Republican colleagues that the campaign he led to defund Obamacare has bolstered the GOP's political position in dealing with the government shutdown.

Republicans who attended the weekly lunch hosted by Senate conservatives confirmed that Cruz presented a poll that the Texan paid for. Cruz' pollster, Chris Perkins, was there for a portion of the discussion to help walk members through the poll and discuss the party's messaging strategy.

Got that, Republicans? Never mind the independent data from Gallup, Washington Post/ABC News, CBS News, CNN, and the Pew Research Center -- the freshman senator who got you into this mess has his own poll that should set your mind at ease.

And what, pray tell, did the Cruz poll say? I'm glad you asked.

The survey's findings mirrored other national polls: More voters blame the Republicans for the government shutdown than blame President Obama or the Democrats. But Cruz argued, based on the poll, that Republicans are in a much better position than they were during the 1995 shutdown because this impasse is defined by a disagreement over funding for the Affordable Care Act as opposed to a general disagreement over government spending.

How anyone could possibly take Cruz seriously at this point is something of a mystery to me.

Look, last month, the Texas Republican told his party that they wouldn't get blamed if they shut down the government because Americans hate health-care reform. Cruz, as his own poll helps demonstrate, points in the opposite direction.

Last month, the senator also told his party that Republicans were actually fine after the Gingrich shutdown, so they have nothing to worry about. Yesterday he argued to his GOP colleagues that the Gingrich shutdown was a mess for his party, but this current fiasco isn't nearly as bad.

If Democrats are extremely fortunate, Cruz will continue to set the Republican Party's direction and dictate the GOP's strategies for many years to come.