Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) is the most viable of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates, according to many members of the Cornell Republicans.
The group has been running semesterly straw polls of candidate preferences among its members since last spring, said Austin McLaughlin ’18, Secretary of the Cornell Republicans.
When the club began taking the straw polls, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) were the main contenders for the Republican nomination.
While Santorum was the most popular initially, Rubio was the favorite of the two in two subsequent polls, according to McLaughlin.
Rubio has since dropped out of the race, but Cruz has picked up much of Rubio’s supporters within the club, according to Jake Zhu ’18, First Vice Chair of the Cornell Republicans.
“I think 65 percent of Rubio’s support went to Cruz,” Zhu said.
Zhu added that the executive board’s support of Cruz has grown as well, saying that three of the six board members now support Cruz and the other three are undecided.
While the Cornell Republicans are composed of “a lot of libertarians, some Tea Party folks, general conservatives, some moderate Republicans,” and occasionally some Democrats, some members prioritize pragmatism over other factors, according to Mark LaPointe ’16, Chairman of the Cornell Republicans.
“Whoever gets the nomination has to go up against Hillary or Bernie,” LaPointe said.
While not in agreement with Cruz’s social policies, Zhu said he is drawn to his ambition and admires his ability to “energize the voters and mobilize us to to fight for conservative values.”
“I am not socially conservative, but Ted Cruz’s passion is what drives me to vote for him,” he said. “I like his passion and drive and rhetoric. His style of speech is what appeals me.”
Donald Trump, the national Republican frontrunner, lacks favorability within the student organization, according to LaPointe.
“The youth is less likely to support Donald Trump, from what I’ve discussed with the [Cornell] Republicans,” LaPointe said.
Widespread concern about Trump has led non-Cruz supporters within the club to support Kasich, according to LaPointe.
“A lot of people may think that Kasich can rally a broader ideological base than Cruz,” LaPointe said.
Zhu also attested to the lack of support for Trump within the Cornell Republicans. He said that on the club’s executive board, “nobody supports Trump.”