Is Jeb toast

It sure seems that way.  NYT:

A beleaguered Jeb Bush slashed his campaign spending. Donald J. Trump lost his lead in Iowa. And a surging Ben Carson galvanized his support among social conservatives…

Mr. Bush cut salaries, fired consultants and laid off or reassigned many campaign workers. It was the latest sign that  contenders vying for support from moderates and the party’s establishment are all but running on fumes — exhausting their cash, or the patience of their supporters, but barely moving in the polls.

I do find it interesting that Jeb is drawing inspiration from McCain 2008.

In New Hampshire, meanwhile, Mr. Bush is drawing inspiration from another candidate who also struggled with money troubles — Senator John McCain of Arizona. Several times in recent weeks, Mr. Bush has recalled an encounter with Mr. McCain at the Atlanta airport during the 2008 presidential primary campaign.

“He’s carrying his bag, he has no aide, he’s running for president, he has no staff,” Mr. Bush said in New Hampshire last month. “The campaign was basically over. Everybody said it. All the pundits said, ‘It’s over; why waste your time?’ ”

But Mr. McCain persisted, Mr. Bush said, implicitly making an analogy-cum-prediction for his own predicament.

I remember thinking McCain was perhaps being written off prematurely in 2007.  That said, I just don’t see Jeb pulling off what McCain did.  Jeb strikes me as a weaker candidate (John Cassidy is all over that) with a stronger field than McCain faced.  Furthermore, I find this analysis in the National Review focusing on Jeb’s lack of grassroots/small donor support to be pretty interesting and compelling:

Candidates who cannot win the support of major donors ultimately lack the qualities to be competitive in a general election. Influential votes and voices matter, and not just for their money. This is why candidates such as Bernie Sanders are extremely unlikely to be president, no matter how much money they raise.

Conversely, candidates whom big donors love but who do not excite the base can sometimes be lifted by the establishment to the nomination but have no hope in the general election. This why candidates such as Rudy Giuliani, despite his enormous major-donor fundraising totals, went absolutely nowhere in the GOP primaries. Ultimately, it is candidates who — e.g., Obama and George W. Bush — excite the grassroots and do well with major donors who win.

That strikes me as about right.  Suffice it to say, that Jeb is not exactly lighting the grassroots on fire:

This perspective is instructive when analyzing the candidates’ latest quarterly financial reports in the 2016 GOP presidential primary. I have compared the cumulative fundraising data from the election to date with the data through the same quarter of the 2012, 2008, 2004, and 2000 election cycles to see what we can learn about which candidates are likely to do well and which candidates are almost certain to fail. From examining the data, several striking patterns emerge, and if fundraising history is any guide to the present, all of the following assertions will prove true.

Jeb Bush has almost no chance of being the GOP nominee, owing to a near-complete lack of support from the GOP’s rank-and-file donors…

Second, Jeb Bush cannot win. I don’t say this because I dislike Jeb. (On the contrary, I think he has virtues as both a candidate and a person.) But the numbers don’t lie. It’s not just that his ratio of big-donor to small-dollar donations is vastly out of sync with the rest of the GOP and Democratic fields today. (Even Romney’s ratio of small-donor to big-donor dollars was more than twice Jeb’s.) Jeb’s big-donor to small-donor ratio is 15:1. No candidate has ever won the nomination with such a heavy reliance on big donors, even at a time when big-donor money made up a much larger percentage of total fundraising. For the rest of the GOP field, the ratio of big-donor to small-donor money is 1:1.6. Furthermore, Jeb ranks just third in total fundraising. For reasons I examine below, that seems unlikely to improve.

We certainly have seen that you cannot win a primary election just based on rich people’s willingness to give your campaign a lot of money.  That’s pretty much all Jeb has going for him.  I strongly suspect that a bunch of these millionaires were wishing they could get their money back about now.

If Republican primary party voters are smart, the establishment support will coalesce behind Rubio (just don’t see Kasich happening, though that would work, too).  That said, I’m increasingly disinclined to believe that Republican primary voters are smart.  Can’t wait for the voting to get going and find out.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

3 Responses to Is Jeb toast

  1. Jon K says:

    i agree with you that the establishment better coalesce around a candidate, and I agree with you that Republicans probably won’t do the smart thing and pick Kasich. i don’t think Rubio has the patience or temperament or gravitas to be president. what I have read about him just picking up his toys and going home in the senate really turns me off on him even more.

    In my opinion Kasich is really the only establishment candidate left in the race. He is the only one talking about balancing the budget and not fixated on tax cuts and defunding obamacare. If the Republicans nominate Trump, Carson, or Cruz they are setting up another Goldwater style landslide defeat. I’m actually beginning to think that might be necessary to restore sanity to the GOP. That would make my almost certain decision to vote for the democrats this time much much easier. If Kasich somehow pulls off the nomination I’m going to have real problems figuring out what to do….

  2. rgbact says:

    He’s toast…except for everyone else thats toast. Thats a crowded field for ya. If you believe that Trump/Carson will eventually fade away, Jeb should be OK. His real contest is with people like Kasich and Christie for being the “establshment pick”. That should be all he cares about right now. So long as the Kasich and Christie can’t get much media attention, Jeb should be fine.

    In my own GOP voter pick for “establishment candidate….I’d go 1) Christie 2) Kasich 3) Jeb.

  3. R. Jenrette says:

    If the so-called GOP moderates think that an outsider could win the primaries, they’d better start
    listening to rank and file Republicans. They don’t want Social Security and Medicare compromised. They want the rich to pay more. They don’t want special treatment or subsidies to big, profitable corporations.
    The so called moderates can’t accept these wants because of their need for big donor money. Instead, they’ve been making big promises and not keeping them.
    As for Jeb! being a moderate Republican, look up his actions in the Terry Schiavo case and tell me he is a moderate anything.

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