Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) certainly understands the sort of rhetoric that will appeal to conservative voters in Texas.
"We've got a fight on our hands. The extreme left? They're angry, they're energized, and they hate the president,” he said at an event over the weekend. “And I've got to tell you: That's dangerous. We underestimate — that level of fury and rage, we underestimate that at our peril."
That energy from Democrats meant that “we are seeing tens of millions of dollars flooding into the state of Texas from liberals all over the country who desperately want to turn the state of Texas blue,” he continued.
"They want us to be just like California,” Cruz said, “right down to tofu and silicon and dyed hair."
If this is your fear, senator, we have some bad news.
First of all, let's note that the phrasing here is weird. “Silicon” and “dyed hair” don't really go together. And besides, what's wrong with silicon? Silicon Valley's economic power is generally considered something beneficial. We suspect that Cruz meant to say silicone, as in the fundamental building block of certain stereotypical California endowments. That does go well with “hair dye” as a point of critique.
Second, that view of California is generally associated with Southern California — the more conservative part of the state. Is it common in liberal Hollywood? Sure. Is it common in conservative Orange County, too? Yes, it is.
Both of those points are irrelevant, though. Texas is already one of the states with the most emphasis on those horrible trends that Cruz laments.
Let's dispatch quickly with the “silicon” line Cruz used. In 2016, the year for which the most recent data are available, Texas was the state with the second-most computer manufacturing firms after California. There's a whole popular tech festival in Texas, South by Southwest — although, to be fair, that's in Austin, the bluest part of the state.
But again, we don't think Cruz meant to say “silicon."
So how popular is talk of silicone in Texas? Well, we can use Google Trends data, comparing search interest by state, to see how Texas ranks. If we cut to the chase and look at how often people searched for “breast implants” over the past month relative to other search terms, Texas already ranks 15th. California ranks eighth; no state had searches for “breast implants” make up a larger portion of search traffic over the past month than Hawaii.
It's not just a blue-state thing, though. The state that came in second on this metric was Arizona. Fourth and fifth were Utah and Oklahoma.
How about hair dye? California is 10th; Texas is 17th — still just about in the top third of the country. The most interest? In West Virginia.
You will be unsurprised to learn that “tofu” is an actual differentiator here. Hawaii again takes the top spot, by a mile. California is second; Texas, 26th.
However! There's an important note that should accompany this important analysis. If Cruz is worried about Texas growing friendlier to breast implants and tofu with the election of a new senator, that already happened.
After he was elected in 2012, Texas's ranking on interest in those two subjects jumped. Texas was ranked 21st in “breast implant” searches; now it's 15th. It had been 34th on “tofu.” Now it's nearly in the top half. (Its ranking on hair dye slipped from 15th to 17th.)
Cruz admitted that he'd played a role in increasing the state's interest in tofu.
"By the way, I married me a California vegetarian,” he said, using an informal style of speaking that's unusual for him. “She's wonderful, but I brought her to the great state of Texas."
He did not comment on whether anyone in his family dyes their hair.