I’m sure you’ve been watching the GOP nominating process with as much care and concern as you can muster, so you’ve probably noticed that the man everyone kept telling us would be the likely nominee, Jeb Bush, is currently mired in the middle of the GOP pack. Real Clear Politics keeps a running tally of all of the national polling data on their website, and the latest analysis shows Bush currently stuck in 5th place behind Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Marco Rubio. Thus far, the GOP donor class has maintained their loyalty to the Bush brand and continued supporting Jeb, but according to a recent story in the Washington Post, that loyalty may soon be coming to an end.
Jeb Bush is entering a critical phase of his Republican presidential campaign, with top donors warning that the former Florida governor needs to demonstrate growth in the polls over the next month or face serious defections among supporters.
The warnings, expressed by numerous senior GOP fundraisers in recent days, come as Bush and an allied super PAC are in the early stages of an aggressive television ad campaign they say will help erase doubts about his viability.
But Bush continues to battle against a steady decline in the polls, sinking to fifth place at just 7 percent in a national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday and similarly languishing in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
The warnings from top donors come as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s exit from the race refocused the battle within the GOP’s establishment wing as one between Bush and his former protege, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Right now, the momentum appears to be behind Rubio, who has jumped ahead of Bush in most polls. At least a third of the bundlers who signed up to raise money for Walker have switched their allegiance to Rubio, while a smaller number have gone with Bush, according to people familiar with the discussions.
This is big news and it comes at just the right moment for Rubio. Currently the Senator from Florida is sitting just ahead of Bush in the polls, but still behind Trump, Carson and Fiorina. For Rubio the hope is likely that Bush will soon be forced out of the race himself (a la Rick Perry and Scott Walker) and that the voters currently supporting Bush will choose Rubio as their backup. The problem is that Jeb Bush has been out-fundraising everyone in the GOP field for quite some time, and he has built up a considerable war chest. For Rubio to end Jeb Bush’s presidential aspirations he’ll have to play the long game and continue to whittle away at Bush’s base. The amount of money that Bush has accumulated almost guarantees that he will be in the race for months to come, and the other candidates (Rubio in particular) better get used to it.
I don’t think Jeb Bush will win the GOP nomination but I do believe he’ll be a thorn in the side of the eventual winner until the bitter end.
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