The crazier Ted Cruz (L) gets, the better 2016 looks for Rand Paul (R).
Amy Walters in the subscription-only Cook Political Report:
Interestingly, the more Cruz draws attention to himself, the more it helps raise Rand Paul's profile as well. Once considered just a fringe element, Paul's stock among those outside the Tea Party core has continued to grow. Paul's filibuster on drones may not have lasted as long as Cruz's, but he showed an ability to zero in on an issue that can appeal to a diverse group of voters. The issue of drones and foreign intervention will be just as robust in the Democratic primary in 2016 as it will be among the GOP.
A year ago, Rand Paul defined the GOP's right flank. Now, he seems safely ensconced in his party's middle. Just like eight years ago, Oklahoma's Tom Coburn was the craziest of the their crazies, and today he's closer to his party's left flank. It's hard to overstate just how far to the right the GOP has moved in the last decade alone.
The 2016 GOP primary will be epic war between the GOP's warring factions, the teabaggy insurgents versus the staid establishment. If Rand can look reasonable in comparison to Cruz, his odds of winning the nomination rise exponentially. Someone who can continue attracting significant teabagger support and national security libertarians, and layer establishment money and other resources on top of that, will be a genuine force.
Cruz won't gain mainstream cred. He won't work to broaden his appeal beyond his crazy base just like he wouldn't study with anyone from a "lesser ivie". Paul won't limit himself so needlessly.