Tuesday's GOP victory doesn't guarantee the party's success in 2016. But the race, which began as soon as AP called the midterms for the party, has steeled a few Republicans angling for presidential bids. One likely contender, however, already appears to be behind: Ted Cruz.
The Texas senator certainly had a good election night. His party won a majority in the Senate, and he appeared on CNN and Fox News soon after the victory became clear to talk about the GOP's legislative plans with its newfound power.
But although Cruz touted his campaign stops, compared to other 2016 hopefuls, he didn't appear much on the trail. Those other Republicans had much more cause for celebration.
In this election season, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky campaigned aggressively for fellow Republicans. He stumped for Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, who defeated his independent challenger by a 10-point margin. He campaigned for Sen.-elect David Perdue in Georgia; Iowa's first female senator, Joni Ernst; and others. At Mitch McConnell's victory party Tuesday night, Paul gave a rousing speech replete with presidential undertones, such as pointed jabs at likely Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. It was only fitting for a politician with many new allies who owe him favors.
As head of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie placed very public stock in elevating fellow GOP gubernatorial candidates across the country"“and it paid off. From blue Massachusetts to Florida, a key swing state, Christie's campaigning was on point. More important, he proved that he has allies in the party across the country, which will set a nice foundation for Christie 2016.
Another governor, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, secured his place in the Republican primary field not by campaigning for his peers but by winning a tough reelection battle. He's now twice won election in the overwhelmingly blue state and also survived a vicious 2012 recall campaign. Walker can use those tangible results to build the groundwork for his own 2016 bid.
Unlike his peers, Cruz's tenure in office has been marked by going his own way, regardless of what the party establishment thinks. That's his hallmark, and it could certainly work in his favor. But to run a successful presidential campaign, he'll need friends in the party. Tuesday's Republican victory showed that he might have some bonding sleepovers to plan.