What’s at Stake for Ted Cruz in Tonight’s Republican Debate

November 10, 2015, 8:30 PM UTC
Growth and Opportunity Party
DES MOINES, IA-October 31: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), speaks at the Growth and Opportunity Party, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Saturday October 31, 2015. With just 93 days before the Iowa caucuses Republican hopefuls are trying to shore up support amongst the party. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
Photograph by Steve Pope — Getty Images

Ted Cruz is currently running in fourth place in the Republican Presidential primaries, ahead of Jeb Bush but still behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio. If he wants to move up in the race, he’ll need to double-down on his conservative bona fides and win back some of those Tea Party voters who’ve fallen in line with Trump and Carson.

How can he do that? By focusing on the most conservative things about him—his support for a flat tax and his hardline stance on immigration. If he emphasizes those points, he could win over voters who have previously supported one of the outsider candidates and set himself up to take even more of that support if Trump or Carson drops out.

Tuesday evening’s debate will be broadcast by Fox Business and will likely focus on business matters. But if Cruz can work in his socially conservative views on abortion and LGBT issues, that would help him win support among potential GOP primary voters who might otherwise support a candidate like Ben Carson. The Hill noted that Cruz is staking his campaign on winning primaries in southern states. He’ll have to curry favor from evangelical voters to do that, so look for him to work that angle as often as possible.

Cruz should also continue to be the fiery, outspoken debater he’s been so far, especially to offer a contrast from the more muted approach of Carson, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio.

Fortune’s take on the other GOP candidates appearing in Tuesday evening’s debate:

Marco Rubio

Donald Trump

Ben Carson

Jeb Bush

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