Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Can Jeb Bush win by outlasting his rivals?

By Richard Barry

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with a big early lead in the Iowa Republican Caucus with 21 percent of likely GOP caucus participants, followed by Paul and Rubio, each with 13 percent, then Cruz at 12 percent and Huckabee at 11. Then Ben Carson at 7 percent followed by Jeb Bush at 5. No other candidate is above 3 percent and 6 percent are undecided.

That's right, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is in seventh place with 5 percent.

This is my favourite result:

Bush tops the list at 25 percent, followed by New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie with 20 percent, when likely Republican Caucus participants are asked if there is any candidate they would definitely not support.

Luckily this is all a part of Jeb Bush's master plan, or so Bush advisor Mike Murphy would have you believe. 

In an analysis in The Washington Post, Matea Gold and Robert Costa report these comments in a meeting Murphy had with potential Bush donors: 

[Murphy] dismissed buzz-fueled candidates who rise fast early only to flame out once the primaries begin. Murphy ridiculed the early spate of presidential polls — many of which show Bush lagging, particularly in Iowa — as “noise meters.” And he insisted that the Bush team is patiently playing a long game, one that will not be upended by the actions of his rivals.

As Gold and Costa remind us, this is a similar approach that worked for Mitt Romney, who saw a number of his rivals briefly lead in the polls only to fade shortly after tasting success.

The clear difference is that this is not 2012, particularly in terms of the strength of the opponents Bush must face, some of whom will be able to raise serious money from their own super-PACs. 

And there is Bush's ability to anger conservative activists due in part to his stand on issues like immigration and education reform, and perhaps also from the sense that he is from on older way of doing things that values compromise and old fashioned politicking.

I'm still putting my money on Jeb to at least win the GOP nomination, I just thought I'd run through a few reasons he's going to have a tough time. 

Can Jeb Bush win the nomination if he remains very unpopular with conservative activists? And is it possible to win with a long-game strategy with so much quality competition?

My answer is still yes because in that long-game Jeb is still really only running against Walker and Rubio, and I don't think Walker has the political performance chops, and I can't get my head around Rubio as the nominee. Rubio just seems too insubstantial to me. 

Last man standing. 


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  • If Jeb manages to get the nomination and then fails in the general election, it will be four more years of Republicans claiming that there is nothing wrong with their party and that (1) they shouldn't have nominated another Bush; and (2) they should have nominated a "true conservative." I don't suppose it matters. I just don't look forward to listening to it. And they are bound to come up with similar narratives regardless if they lose the general election. Because, you know, no one is ever a pure enough conservative.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:44 PM  

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