On Tuesday, Ted Cruz’s crusade against Planned Parenthood allowed him to win the day online.
The day belonged to the conservative Texas senator and 2016 presidential candidate, who commanded more media attention than any GOP contender who has never had his own reality TV show, according to our analytics partner Zignal Labs. Cruz’s call to defund Planned Parenthood stoked the conservative netroots. Cruz himself drove the social-media chatter with a series of widely-circulated tweets:
The gambit proved so successful at generating attention that one of his fellow GOP contenders decided to join the fray. Look at what happened to Ben Carson’s mentions when Carson also pushed for the government to defund Planned Parenthood on Tuesday evening:
But Cruz was the one who got the lion’s share of the attention. Carson received 40 percent of the Twitter mentions that Cruz did, but the Texas senator had five times as many television mentions, meaning his story reached millions more people than Carson’s announcement. Look at that same total mentions graph when we only chart mentions of the two candidates on network and cable television:
The Planned Parenthood story is proving a boon for conservatives like Cruz. Iowa freshman Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) filed a bill in Congress last night to completely block any federal money from going to the group. It came at the end of a day that saw the release of a third undercover video by an anti-abortion rights group. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — also a 2016 candidate — and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are among the cosponsors.
Democrats will never allow this to happen, but Republicans believe that they can play offense on the abortion issue in 2016 (unlike in 2012 when the issue cost them two Senate seats in red states). To improve the optics, GOP leaders are leaning on women to lead the fight. Besides Ernst in the Senate, Rep. Diane Black is expected to be front-and-center in the House.