By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
There’s been no shortage of speculation as to whether former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who’s got plenty of cash but few other appreciable accomplishments thus far in the 2016 primary cycle, will see it all through to the end. He’s repeatedly dismissed any suggestion that he’d quit but that’s not unusual for candidates until they actually do. For now, he’s launching a “massive” $14+ million New Hampshire-targeted ad buy in an attempt to muscle his way back into the upper tier.
He’s got a long way to go. Bush sits at 6th place in the RCP New Hampshire average with 1/3 of the share of the vote enjoyed by front runner Donald Trump.
The latest poll from American Research Group, conducted shortly before Christmas. tells the full story. Here’s how respondents answered a question regarding who’d they never vote for:
|Consider||Never vote for|
The candidate with the most upside? Marco Rubio, Bush’s former political apprentice. Only 11% of respondents would never consider voting for the Florida senator; a full 83% hold the opposite opinion. In this respect he’s similarly situated to rival Ted Cruz and Chris Christie which likely explains their own respective successes in Granite State polling as of late.
The least upside? Donald Trump, whom a full 57% of polled GOP voters won’t entertain, and yes, Jeb!, whom 47% of that same poll of voters refuse to consider.
Politics is all about timing like most things in life.
It just isn’t on Jeb Bush’s side this year. The trouble extends well beyond his stunning inability to debate (I’m being kind here) or inescapable baggage-laden surname.
GOP voters are in full revolt – we don’t need to waste time analyzing the obvious. Is a lot of it ill-conceived and misdirected? You bet. Ironically, Bush has a far stronger conservative resume than Trump, a lifelong liberal who changes his principles when the Trump marketing strategy requires accommodation, but as NRO’s Jonah Goldberg accurately lamented back in September, “Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because ‘Trump fights!’”
Fights for “what” is a question that remains unanswered but that’s another post.
What’s more, Bush recently argued that Trump’s hyper-personal attacks on Hillary (making fun of her hair, for example) actually help the presumptive Democrat nominee. He’s right but Bush’s attacks on Trump similarly only serve to strengthen the real estate huckster. No amount of television is likely to change that in a month’s time. We’ve seen some crazy stuff this cycle – like Chris Christie do the impossible and reverse his personal ratings with an intense ground campaign – but we’ve already spent time discussing why “perception” victories in New Hampshire are often Pyrrhic victories. So he improves from 6th place to 3rd or even 2nd place… to what end? Fighting through a deep red South and risk embarrassment in his home state where he’s polling a distant 4th place?
While the nomination is a far shot at this point, being a kingmaker isn’t. Jeb could free up his well-heeled super pacs to back a more viable alternative to the progressive Donald and spare his party of a 1964-esque electoral meltdown that risks control of the U.S. Senate and thousands of state and local Republican victories accrued during the disastrous Obama years.
I feel bad. Jeb hasn’t been treated fairly. But that’s life, folks, and there’s more at stake this upcoming year than any one person’s ambitions. There are simply too many people in the race, and of everyone who could conceivably upend the dynamic, Jeb clearly isn’t among the most likely candidates. It’s time to move on.