Steve King’s endorsement of Ted Cruz matters

If the Texan wins Iowa’s GOP caucuses, Clinton camp cheers

By ART CULLEN

They say endorsements don’t matter much in politics anymore. That’s probably true in a general election but not a primary. There is certainly a correlation between Steve King’s recent endorsement of Ted Cruz for President and the Texas senator’s quick rise to No. 2 — behind Donald Trump — in the most recent poll of Iowa from Quinnipiac University.

Gov. Terry Branstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley may hold the highest offices, but King has a hold on the Iowa Republican Party’s base.

This side of Waterloo runs red all the way to Nebraska. There’s a blue county or two in the mix, but only nominally. Sioux County is the capital. There is little to no likelihood that a Democrat could be elected to either the Senate or House districts serving Buena Vista County. King has proved that he owns the 39 counties of the Fourth Congressional District.

What King says matters in presidential politics.

He is urging the party farther to the right. The message is especially harsh toward immigrants and non-Christians. The party has embraced it. And King embraces Cruz.

Now we have two leading GOP candidates in Iowa who are adamantly anti-immigrant. The third-place candidate, Ben Carson, believes that the pyramids are actually grain bins.

Meantime, 89% of Republican voters are white, according to exit polls, while 44% of Democrats are non-white. And, the fastest-growing voter blocs in America are Asian and Latino.

Any number of real political reporters — like Charlie Cook  of the Cook Political Report or Dan Balz of The Washington Post — have outlined how Republicans are guaranteeing that the White House could remain in Democratic control in virtual perpetuity because the GOP standard-bearers are so openly hostile to Latinos.

Democrats control big cities and big states, which lead to Electoral College victories. Republicans control state legislatures (which draw Congressional district boundaries), 31 governorships and Congress. Former Clinton pollster Stan Greenberg tells Balz that we are setting up for the Democrats to control the White House while the GOP controls just about everything else. Greenberg blames Democrats for not reaching out from their urban base to recapture white suburban and rural voters.

Nothing is touching Steve King, for sure.

So he is free to exhort and endorse into that Balkanization of American politics that we have lived with for the past few years.

Iowa Republicans can change the dynamic by nominating someone who can bridge the fractures, a John Kasich or even a Jeb Bush. But they won’t, because the Iowa GOP is pretty much talking to itself inside that bubble of hating on Muslims and Mexicans. It works west of Interstate 35, but it doesn’t play so well the closer you get to Peoria.

Barack Obama was elected twice despite being a traitor, a foreigner, a Muslim, a weenie and decidedly the Worst Leader Ever.

Yet that is who Cruz is running against, not Hillary Clinton.

Iowa Democrats are waking up to the notion that Bernie Sanders has had his say. This is their race to lose, and they are not going to risk it on a Vermont socialist who looks like a college poetry professor — even if they do love his outrage and angst. They know the Clintons know how to win even with their impurities.

Steve King is helping them do it.

Go ahead, make her day: Nominate Ted Cruz, Donald Trump or Ben Carson.

She should crush any one of them with the Obama coalition of young voters, minorities and women. The machine will turn them out on Election Day.

That same coalition does not get off-year elections, so the likes of King will crush any comer.

And we just keep on keeping on the way we have been: President Clinton, a Democrat, squaring off against House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, over whether to lift the debt ceiling or shut down the government. Republicans could win the trifecta — White House, Senate and House — if they could only get past themselves. It doesn’t appear that they can.