For nearly a decade, the mysterious Zodiac killer terrorized the Bay Area by brutally murdering young couples and then taunting police and the media with cryptic notes. The killer was never found — unless he's now a GOP presidential contender.
A rumor that the long-sought-after serial killer is actually Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has been gaining steam on the web all winter, to the point that Public Policy Polling asked Florida voters about the subject in its latest poll.
And PPP found that a sizable chunk of Floridians — open-minded folks that we are — refused to rule out the possibility that Cruz might just be a ruthless butcher.
Only 10 percent of Floridians told the poll they're certain Cruz is the Zodiac killer, because most of us need more evidence, obviously. But another 28 percent checked "not sure" on that question. Barely 60 percent were willing to totally exonerate Cruz.
It's hard to explain how the Cruz-as-Zodiac story got so much momentum except to say it's the internet.
The Daily Dot says it all began with this joke on Twitter in 2013:
#CPAC Alert: Ted Cruz is speaking!! His speech is titled: 'This Is The Zodiac Speaking'— Red Pill America (@RedPillAmerica) March 14, 2013
It's since gone full meme, presumably to Cruz's chagrin (or worry, if he is indeed a mass murderer on the lam.)
Let's dispel this fiction that Ted Cruz is not the Zodiac Killer. Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer. pic.twitter.com/2gzR9I2Bdz— Zach Heltzel (@zachheltzel) February 13, 2016
OK, to be fair, there is some pretty strong evidence already that Cruz is not actually the Zodiac killer. For one thing, the Zodiac's first murder took place in December 1968, which was two years before Cruz was born. Zodiac's last murder came in the early '70s, when Cruz would have been a toddler. Details!
If anything, PPP's survey shows that most Floridians don't think highly enough of Cruz to clear him of a string of horrific murders without more concrete evidence.
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The survey did have a few non-serial-killer findings of interest, though hometown candidate Marco Rubio will hope the Zodiac finding dominates the headlines. PPP finds Donald Trump absolutely walloping Rubio in Florida, with a 45-25 lead over the Miami native. Cruz, dogged by Zodiac fears, comes in a distant third, at 10 percent.
Rubio went hard at Trump last night in the GOP debate and will hope his attacks even the spread a bit. But PPP found plenty of other worrying signs, including an awful 31 percent approval rating for his work as a senator.
“Marco Rubio needs to hope tonight’s debate was a big game-changer,” Dean Debnam, PPP's president, says in a release. “He was so weak going in that he couldn’t beat out Donald Trump one-on-one even in Florida.”
There is some good news for Rubio, though: No one suspects him of being a serial killer.