The GOP establishment has settled on Jeb Bush as the “electable” candidate to carry the Republican banner in 2016. The problem with this theory is that it’s hard to find people who want to vote for him.
Josh Kraushaar of National Journal writes that the Republican elite and the Republican base are not exactly on the same page.
But there are signs that a worst-case, crash-and-burn scenario for Bush is more realistic than even his skeptics recognize. He’s underperforming in early public polls and is receiving a frosty reception from Republican focus groups. His entitled biography is at odds with the Republican Party’s increasing energy from working-class voters, who relate best with candidates who have struggled to make ends meet. The Bush name is a reminder of the past at a time when GOP voters are desperate for new faces. And after losing two straight presidential elections, Republican voters are thinking much more strategically—and aren’t nearly as convinced as the political press that Bush is the strongest contender against Hillary Clinton.
It would be foolish to over-read the results of focus groups, but it’s equally egregious to ignore their findings—especially given that they’re paired with polls that show Bush’s candidacy a tough sell among voters. Last week, Bloomberg and Purple Strategies cosponsored a New Hampshire panel of 10 Republicans, most of whom were hostile to a Bush presidential bid. “I know enough to know I don’t need to keep voting for a Bush over and over again,” one participant said. Several laughed at the notion that he’s the front-runner. Not a single one said they’d support him for president.
The article goes on in this vein for a while. The Bush campaign people have decided that the public just doesn’t know enough about their boy yet. Somehow I don’t think that’s their problem.
Jeb’s entire sales pitch is that he’s the most electable candidate in a general election. Ed Kilgore writes,
The line about voters not buying Bush’s electability argument is especially important, and one I’m not sure anybody’s adequately made before Kraushaar’s column. Electability is supposed to be the Republican Establishment’s ace-in-the-hole, the argument carefully conveyed over time that wears down “the base’s” natural desire for a True Conservative fire-breather. In your head you know he’s right is the not-so-subtle message. But Jeb’s electability credentials are as baffling to regular GOP voters as they are obvious and unimpeachable to elites. …
… Looking at it more generally, the jury is out as to whether the appropriate precedent for Jeb is somebody like Mitt Romney, who gradually won over intraparty skeptics by dint of money, opportunism, and a ruthless ability to exploit rivals’ vulnerability, or somebody like Rudy Giuliani, a guy who looked great until actual voters weighed in. And even that contrast may not capture Jeb’s problem: Rudy did well in early polls.
And then there’s this:
Fearing that Republicans will ultimately nominate an establishment presidential candidate like Jeb Bush, leaders of the nation’s Christian right have mounted an ambitious effort to coalesce their support behind a single social-conservative contender months before the first primary votes are cast.
In secret straw polls and exclusive meetings from Iowa to California, the leaders are weighing the relative appeal and liabilities of potential standard-bearers like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and the former governors Rick Perry, of Texas, and Mike Huckabee, of Arkansas.
“There’s a shared desire to come behind a candidate,” said Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council, a national lobbying group that opposes abortion and equal rights for gays.
There was a time that the Christian right would dutifully support whatever the Republicans told them to support, including Jeb’s little brother. I take it those days are gone.
And Jeb can’t even count on his brother’s friends, the neocons.
Aren’t GOP presidential politics just great? You wake up one morning and suddenly Jeb Bush is the “anti-Israel candidate” in the Republican presidential primary field.
And this is because Jeb occasionally talks to James Baker, and James Baker is no fan of Benjamin Netanyahu. And of course it’s blasphemy on the Right these days to declare anything less than total unquestioning loyalty to Benjamin Netanyahu.
This is not to say Jeb can’t pull it off. His competition doesn’t even rise to the level of clowns; they’re more like punch lines in a lame stand-up act. A lot of insiders will still back him. He will have an endless pool of money. The media will treat him very kindly.
And then there’s this — while declaring that he is “his own man” he’s already holding fundraisers with his former President brother. Oh, wait …