The XX Factor

Ted Cruz vs. Wendy Davis: Battle of the Long-Talking Texan Senators

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) gets some attention.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ted Cruz, the junior senator from Texas, decided to get up and talk a long time about his deep displeasure at learning that once a bill becomes a law, that means it’s actually, you know, the law. So how does Cruz stack up to this year’s OG of long-talking Texans who care about health care, Wendy Davis? Let’s find out:

Purpose of the very long speech

Wendy Davis: To filibuster an anti-abortion bill that would dramatically reduce women’s health care access in Texas.


Ted Cruz: To get a lot of attention for his opposition to a law that will dramatically expand health care access for millions of Americans.

Winner: A draw. It really depends on if you want people to have more or less health care access, which is clearly a point of serious contention in America these days.


Length of speech

Wendy Davis: Around 10 hours, before Republicans filing procedural motions cut her off.

Ted Cruz: Just over 21 hours

Winner: Ted Cruz. We all eagerly await post-speech discussion of his catheter placement.


Wendy Davis: Attempted a genuine filibuster, held under incredibly strict rules about what is considered relevant to debate, that successfully killed the bill the first time around.


Ted Cruz: Attempting what is not really a filibuster and will have no impact on whether a vote goes forward. 

Winner: Davis.

Sneaker color

Wendy Davis: Pink, for the ladies.

Ted Cruz: Black, for all the people who will die from lack of health care should he ever get his way.

Winner: Cruz’s people did manage to get a lot of press mentions of his sneakers, but there’s no way he’s going to be on a magazine cover holding those shoes. So we give it to Davis.

Grassroots excitement

Wendy Davis: A massive and spontaneous outpouring of support that led to one of the largest protests the Texas Capitol has ever seen.  

Ted Cruz: This Twitter feed has some jokes about Obama that weren’t funny the first time they were trotted out six years ago. 


Winner: Davis. 

Party support

Wendy Davis: Texas Democrats rallies around her in a photogenic show of solidarity, and the president registered his support.

Ted Cruz: While some Republicans are helping him out, others are running around anonymously trashing Cruz and comparing him unfavorably to … Wendy Davis.

Winner: Davis, who, according to anonymous congressional aides, “has more balls.


Wendy Davis: Doesn’t really have more of them.

Ted Cruz: Has them.

Winner: Cruz.

Media coverage

Wendy Davis: Got a state story widespread national coverage.

Ted Cruz: Most major newspapers gave more front page real estate to a new report showing that lower-than-expected health care premiums will debut with the health care exchanges next week. More than half of major Texas newspapers didn’t put Cruz on their front pages, and as the Democrats gloatingly noted on their Twitter feed, the lower-than-expected premium story was above the fold while Cruz’s speech was below it in the Houston Chronicle.


Winner: Davis.

Pop culture references

Wendy Davis: None. 

Ted Cruz: Worked in mentions of Ayn Rand, Dr. Seuss, and Duck Dynasty.

Winner: Cruz. (Who would have thought?) While he had an unfair advantage—Davis was not allowed to go off-topic and Cruz can ramble on endlessly about whatever he likes—Cruz still gets this point.


Wendy Davis: Though she succeeded in the short term, the Texas abortion bill did ultimately pass.

Ted Cruz: The “defund Obamacare” movement is, as Slate’s Dave Weigel puts it, a “rolling, tumbling sack of failure.”

Winner: Draw.

Overall Winner: Davis, by a long shot.