Last week’s third Republican debate may be the signaling of Jeb Bush’s imminent exit from the 2016 primary season. The once heir apparent to both the Bush Dynasty and the Republican nomination is languishing in the polls, and were it not for the backing of wealthy donors, Jeb would be placed amongst the other second-tier candidates.
Since April this year, Bush’s campaign has been in a free-fall, slipping from 17 to just 6.6 percent according to Real Clear Politics’s aggregate polling numbers. Bush’s attempt to drop the ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ persona in last week’s debate fell flat, with his slam on Rubio’s ‘working French Week’ doing very little for the audience and viewers. Highly qualified, well funded, and fluent in Spanish, what explains Bush’s lack of popular support?
Perhaps Bloomberg’s poll showing that 42 percent of Republican primary voters said they would never vote for Jeb Bush should have been our first indication of his lack of viability. Voters have consistently cited that they do not think America should be run like a dynasty, and worse, that the Bush name is too soiled for any qualified candidate to overcome its negative connotations. The latter seems to be something Senator Marco Rubio understands, who now readily pushes against his former mentor with major success.
Despite Jeb’s claims that he is not his father or his brother, his distancing from them is disastrous in one respect—they knew how to campaign.
In the 2000 primary season, the then Governor Bush surged in the polls. His early lead was in large part attributed to his father’s name, as well as support from establishment Republicans. Importantly however, George W. Bush was capable of taking his money and turning it into popular support. George W. Bush’s only real competition came from Senator John McCain, who he ultimately beat by a margin of 2:1.
Fundamental to George W. Bush’s success was that fact that he was an excellent campaigner. His charisma and Texas charm bore him favor amongst conservative voters, as well as well-funded donors. He won 46 of 51 primaries, never garnering less than 36.28% of the vote. Consistently his money turned into tangible votes, something Jeb’s campaign seems incapable of doing.
As Jeb’s number dwindle, and there seems to be little hope that Jeb’s campaign can regain steam, it is only certain that journalists, Washington insiders, and media alike will pin farewell stories to the political dynasty that never was. Yet, perhaps the Republican’s resistance to follow its time-honored hierarchical structure means that the party is ready for change. Faced with prospect of a three-term democratic hold over the Presidency, it’s imperative for Republicans to find a new groove if they want to succeed in pushing their conservative agenda.
It may be preemptive, but only time will tell if #jebcanfixit