Former Florida governor Jeb Bush continues to lag in GOP primary polls and the lack of results creates worry among supporters.
If a $25 million ad-blitz planned for October doesn’t goose Jeb’s poll numbers, many of his donors may look to apply their financial powers elsewhere — perhaps to Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Jeb Bush campaign death watch begins: http://t.co/5SdXRoHOL7
— RedState (@RedState) September 29, 2015
Politico.com spoke with several donors off the record. One donor described the panic level at a “6 or 7” with 10 being the highest.
“If this $25 million doesn’t move numbers in two weeks, that’s when you’re going to see panic set in,” one donor said.
One of Bush’s biggest money suppliers told Politico: “Are some people nervous? Of course. Some people are always nervous. And things don’t look really good right now…if the election were tomorrow, we’d be s**tting bricks. But the election isn’t tomorrow. We have time. And we have the experience on our side. No one [else] has the campaign, the infrastructure that Jeb has. And no one [else] has the money.”
The current GOP pack still features Donald Trump at the top of the heap with Dr. Ben Carson catching up. Carly Fiorina sits in third with Rubio. Both made significant gains after their performances in the CNN GOP Debate. Jeb remains stuck at 7 percent favorability, four points behind Fiorina and Rubio.
Conservative Review.com Candidate Profile:
With Wisconsin governor Scott Walker dropping out of the race, many speculated where his campaign supporters and dollars would flow. Apparently, they are heading toward Rubio.
I still think Bush can succeed, but damn if Rubio doesn't look like an eventual winner. https://t.co/j7hsJmgY1f
— Jamelle Bouie (@jbouie) September 29, 2015
Rubio’s role in the “Gang of Eight” illegal immigration discussion continues to haunt him with anti-GOP Establishment voters. However, with Walker out of the race, those seeking someone with political experience and a bit of Conservatism to their track record, Rubio ranks high on the list.
Conservative Review.com Candidate Profile:
“I don’t know if it’s panic or paranoia in Miami, but they are losing (Scott) Walker people to Marco and if you say what’s true, they get mad. I think it’s just reflective of what’s been going on for the past month or so and the way the race, at least in the establishment lane, has shifted. It’s really Jeb or Marco now. Marco’s fundraising has picked up and Jeb’s has stayed flat.” — Anonymous donor to Politico.
Bush’s organization claims to own the scale — meaning financial might — to last through March.
RedState.com described Bush’s game plan as: “Jeb Bush’s campaign was always built upon a single principle: use name recognition and family connections to lock up major donors and starve competitors into surrender.”
Since Bush soaked up so much money early in the contest, his chances will improve by attrition alone. The GOP field once boasted 17 candidates and we’ve already seen two big names in Rick Perry and Walker drop out.
“There’s less money out there than people realize,” Katie Packer Gage, a Mitt Romney campaign manager told Politico. “Lots of donors are holding their money because if the big donor wants anything, they want to be with a winner; and they want the right candidate.”
Trump continues to benefit from massive media coverage. His ability to drive ratings makes him a coveted guest. As a result, the self-financed billionaire has not had to wage a money war, but eventually the campaign will turn into an ad frenzy where Trump will have to respond.
How did Bush, considered by mainstream media to be the GOP frontrunner, fall so precipitously?
According the Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. Bush lost support across the board: among men and women, voters under and over 50 years of age, talk-radio listeners, and values and tea-party voters alike. Though his support flagged among likely voters who identified as very conservative and total conservatives, Mr. Bush lost the most ground — a 15-point decline– among self-described moderate and liberals, earning 8% from those voters in September compared with 23% in July. — Wall Street Journal“
Maybe the truth is Bush never had support among GOP voters in the first place. His contributions and aristocratic backers certainly made him look like a tough opponent on paper, but in the end, the primary process is designed to battle-test candidates in front of voters. Right now, they don’t like what they see.