The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ted Cruz won a couple states on Super Tuesday. But he needed to do much better.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz addressed supporters in Texas following a Super Tuesday win in his home state. (Video: Reuters)
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A few weeks ago, after Ted Cruz won Iowa and essentially took a pass on trying to win New Hampshire, I looked into the crystal ball -- or more aptly, at the primary calendar. "Don't sleep on Ted Cruz," I declared after his third-place finish in New Hampshire. "The next five weeks look very, very good for him."

It made sense at the time; Cruz won Iowa on the strength of evangelicals supporting him strongly, 34-22 over Donald Trump. It was the reason he won the state. And as I noted, the Super Tuesday states had LOTS of evangelicals -- many of them more so than Iowa. Plus, it was the South, and Cruz is from the South. It made sense.

But then something happened: Evangelicals slept on Ted Cruz. So did many Southerners.

Yes, Cruz was declared the winner of both Oklahoma and Texas just a short time ago. And some will see his two state wins on Super Tuesday as a shot in the arm.

But one was his home state, and the other was -- next to his home state. What's more, as I noted before, this was supposed to be a very good map for Cruz. It's the South! And yet, he won two highly regional victories.

The reason? Cruz hasn't been able to expand his appeal to evangelicals nationwide -- even in other Southern states. He lost them to Trump in South Carolina and also finishing a distant second to him in Nevada.

And it continued Super Tuesday in most of the early data. So far, he's in second place among evangelicals in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee (all of which Trump has been declared the winner of), he's third in Massachusetts and Virginia (also both Trump wins), and he's fourth in Vermont (which is close).

Cruz was first among evangelicals in Arkansas and Oklahoma -- winning the latter. What does Arkansas have in common with Oklahoma and Texas? Yep, it borders them.

Accordingly, it's looking more and more like Cruz's appeal is very regional, rather than religious. Thus far, evangelicals in other parts of the country just aren't giving him the support he needs. He didn't have a disastrous night, but as I noted before, this was supposed to be a good map and a good night for him. In the end, he got bowled over by Trump just like everyone else, save for a couple states.

He will probably live to fight another day, but his national appeal is highly questionable at this point.