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Endorsements show Republican race’s redrawn battlelines

South Carolina / Bloomberg

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley shook up the Republican presidential race this week by endorsing Florida Senator Marco Rubio. But much of the endorsement action is back in Washington, where a Bloomberg Politics analysis illustrates Ted Cruz’s clear dominance with hard-core conservatives; the battle between Rubio and Jeb Bush for establishment support; and John Kasich’s potential to lock down his party’s left flank.
The analysis of public endorsements among the 300 Republican members of Congress—54 senators and 246 representatives—underscores the fragmentation of a field led by Donald Trump, who lacked a single congressional backer as of Friday morning, when the analysis was completed. If unchecked in South Carolina, he will likely head into Super Tuesday with a clear delegate lead.
Rubio took the lead in the endorsement race this month, riding a wave of support after his better-than-expected Iowa finish on Feb. 1. He now has 40 endorsements, including from Kansas Senator Pat Roberts on Thursday.
Bush, Cruz, Kasich, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson have each notched at least one Capitol Hill nod.
Cruz endorsers represent the far right of the Republican Party. They’re mostly Tea Party House members such as Colorado Representative Ken Buck, who joins Utah Senator Mike Lee and Cruz himself as the only three members of Congress with 100 percent voting scores from the political arm of the conservative Heritage Foundation. That group, Heritage Action for America, scores nearly every congressional vote as either for or against the conservative cause.
Whereas Cruz’s average endorser rates an 85 percent score from Heritage, Kasich’s six endorsers fall toward the other end of the spectrum, averaging 42 percent. Bush’s congressional supporters scored just less than 49 percent on average, in line with the more establishment tenor of his candidacy.
Meanwhile, Rubio comes across as a crossover candidate, appealing to supporters farther to the right than Bush’s and Kasich’s, but less so than Cruz’s. His endorsers averaged 65 percent on the Heritage scorecard.

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