During a rally in Iowa on Friday evening, Ted Cruz made a joke that went over fine with his audience — but was less popular once the wider world caught wind.
Replying to a woman who asked him about holding someone accountable for the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi in 2012, Cruz said that she was “exactly right.” He criticized President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for “engag[ing] in deception” on the matter. Then he zeroed in on Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee for the presidency.
“We do know Hillary told her daughter Chelsea, ‘Well, gosh, I knew it was a terrorist attack, while we were out telling the American people it wasn’t,'” Cruz said. “You know I’ll tell you, in my house, if my daughter Catherine, the five-year-old, says something she knows to be false, she gets a spanking.”
He added: “Well, in America, the voters have a way of administering a spanking.”
While it’s never hard to find outraged people on social media, there was certainly an element of the response to Cruz’s comments that struck a nerve. Former George W. Bush strategist Matthew Dowd, now a commentator for ABC, stated that Cruz was not “a real man” for using corporal punishment on his daughter. Others expressed similar surprise.
And according to numbers from the General Social Survey conducted every two years by the National Opinion Research Center, America is slowly growing less supportive of spanking children. But a majority of Americans still support it.
This used to be pretty nonpartisan. But over time, Democrats and independents started growing less supportive of the use of spanking, while Republicans continued to support it strongly.
That doesn’t quite show the full picture, though. Black Americans have consistently been more supportive of spanking children than white Americans.
And since a large part of the base of Democratic voters is black, that pulls the Democrats’ numbers up. If you look only at whites from 2014, you can see a pronounced partisan split. More than half of white Democrats oppose spanking a child.
But white Republicans — which can often just be shortened to “Republicans” — support disciplining a child with spanking. In 2014, 80 percent of white Republicans agreed with Cruz that spanking was okay.
As we noted when considering the issue after football star Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges, the only region of the country in which a majority opposes spanking is New England: Very white, very Democratic New England.
Cruz may have lost some general election votes in Massachusetts today. But somehow I suspect he’s okay with that.