Survey: Democrats prefer facing Cruz over Bush, who has strong Latino appeal

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Not that they have much say in the matter, but if it were up to Democrats, they would like to see Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on the presidential ticket to face their nominee.

According to a survey of more than a dozen Democratic lawmakers, former members and strategists conducted by The Hill, Democrats believe that Cruz – a fiercely conservative Texan known for pushing buttons both in and outside of the Beltway – would alienate independent voters along with forcing liberals to the polls and give Hillary Clinton, or whoever is the Democratic nominee, the best shot at winning the presidency.

"I don't [dispute] that Cruz is a force — he's demonstrated that — but he's the force that we'd like to see," Connecticut Rep. John Larson told The Hill. "He's a very talented and capable person, but his path to ascendency is to take them further right than they already are, and in order for them to win, they've got to be center-right."

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Democrats say their biggest worry as a threat to their push for the White House is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. While the brother of former President George W. Bush has not yet officially declared that he is running for president, he is expected to do so soon. And many believe his appeal among Latino voters – thanks in large part to his moderate views on immigration – could help him win in key states such as Colorado, Nevada and Florida.

During the 2012 elections, Republican nominee Mitt Romney only garnered 27 percent of the Latino vote compared with President Barack Obama's 71 percent and the GOP has made a conscious effort since to bump up its Hispanic outreach and appeal more to the fast-growing demographic.

"All the polling shows us that the Republican brand is highly unpopular," New York Rep. Steve Israel told The Hill. "A Republican who's reflecting that brand all the way on the right is easy to win against. A Republican who plays against the brand is harder to win against."

Besides Bush, Democrats also said they are concerned with both Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker – both relative newcomers to presidential politics with strong financial support, seen as appealing to independent voters.

While Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva said that both Rubio and Walker were "formidable opponents," he added Rubio is particularly concerning to Democrats because "he has no record" and he "can make it up as he goes."

Some Democrats, however, say the battle for the presidency will be decided in certain swing states – especially the always contentious Florida – not by who the candidate is, but by which party can get more of their members to head to the polls.

"In Florida, there's the blue team, there's the red team, and everyone knows which team they're on. It's that simple. So the only question is: Can you get your people to vote?" Florida Rep. Alan Grayson said. "The more effective Republican presidential candidate will be the one who can motivate the base."

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