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The Jeb Bush Fantasy

As usual, Mark Halperin is hilariously wrong [1]:

Finally, the most macro significant question for any Republican putting him or herself forward to beat Clinton is this: what states can you win that Romney lost? For Bush, the easy answer includes Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Virginia [bold mine-DL]. If he runs a strong campaign, Bush could perhaps compete in California and possibly New Jersey and Michigan.

I don’t think Bush is likely to be the next Republican nominee for reasons I’ve laid out [2] before [3], but it’s worth pointing out a few of the more important flaws in Halperin’s “analysis” here. According to fairly recent polling [4], most Floridians (53%) don’t want Jeb Bush running for president, and in a hypothetical match-up with Clinton he receives just 44% in the state where he was governor for eight years. So it’s not just fantasy to imagine Bush carrying Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio, which have all become impossible or very difficult states for Republican presidential candidates. It is also something of a stretch to assume that he could carry his own home state, which is frankly the only reason to consider him for the nomination in the first place.

Florida is where he is known better than anywhere else and where he is supposedly well-liked. Nonetheless, most of the people there are not interested in backing his presidential bid, and that should tell us something. That tells us that there is much, much less to a Bush candidacy than meets the eye. While he may be the favorite of many donors and D.C. pundits, there is not much popular support for yet another Bush presidency, and even in Florida there is not much support for Jeb Bush’s pursuit of the presidency.

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24 Comments To "The Jeb Bush Fantasy"

#1 Comment By Uncle Billy On October 6, 2014 @ 9:13 am

The GOP establishment likes the idea of a Jeb Bush Presidency. The rank and file, not so much. It also seems that Jeb somehow would like to be President, but does not want to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. Just because his last name is Bush, it does not qualify him to be President. The Bushes are not the American Royal family, and Jeb is not “Prince Jeb.”

George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and a group of fat-cats who write big checks can give Jeb some initial traction, but I doubt that he can close the deal. The ironic thing is though, Jeb would probably make a better President that most of the GOP field. President Huckabee? President Graham? President Jindal? I don’t think so.

#2 Comment By John On October 6, 2014 @ 10:06 am

From that article:

Until and unless grandmotherhood and other personal factors keep the Democratic frontrunner out of the contest, Republicans have to assume they are looking for a nominee who can take on a supremely daunting, uber-iconic Clinton.

I am a loyal Democrat, and have been so for 20 years. However, if you find Clinton “supremely daunting” or “uber-iconic” and wonder if your candidates are up to the job of defeating her, maybe you should reexamine what policy you are asking your candidates to sell. It would have to be loathsome indeed to conclude that Hillary Clinton – the last person with whom America would get a beer and noted ally of plutocracy domestic and foreign – is somehow invincible.

#3 Comment By Bill H On October 6, 2014 @ 10:24 am

Why does anyone pay any attention to anything Mark Halpering says? His only credential is to have co-written a book which consisted of nothing more than unattributed, unconfirmed juicy gossip.

#4 Comment By Richard W. Bray On October 6, 2014 @ 10:41 am

Compete in California? After Enron, no Bush could ever compete in California.

#5 Comment By a reader On October 6, 2014 @ 11:12 am

The Jeb Bush Fantasy
Posted on October 6, 2014

Even in Florida there is not much support for Jeb Bush’s pursuit of the presidency.

Thank you for your common sense article. It is a waste of time to consider Jeb Bush as a presidential candidate. He has no military experience and no advanced degree, and he has never earned a dime on his own — everything had to be given to him. He is not a leader. And yes, I lived in Florida for 8 years while he was governor. I would not recommend him. The only thing he is successful at doing is getting idiots in the press to pretend voters want him to be president. Most FL voters don’t, as you pointed out.

#6 Comment By chas holman On October 6, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

Fool me with one Bush (I voted GWHB) shame on you
Fool me with two Bush’s (I voted GWB the FIRST time), shame on me
Fool me with Three Bushes, I obviously would be the biggest idiot in the world.

#7 Comment By steve in ohio On October 6, 2014 @ 12:48 pm

Unfortunately, the lack of popular support does not seem to matter much anymore. Two years before W ran, there was little popular support. This changed when he started courting Rush and talking about being a born again Christian. By the time, he was running against the “liberal” John McCain in the South Carolina primary, most grass roots Republicans were believing, that despite his last name, he was more Reagan’s son than GHW Bush’s.

#8 Comment By Scott McConnell On October 6, 2014 @ 1:11 pm

One reason to keep the Jeb fantasy, or hope, alive is that there is a non-trivial chance the GOP choice would be a complete Cheneyist hawk– a somewhat better chance than Rand Paul being the nominee. And that, given a natural tendency of the electorate to alternate, that candidate–be it Cruz or Rubio or whoever, would actually win. That would be even worse than Hillary. Jeb Bush — kind of meh, but perhaps more like his father than his brother– stands in the way of that dreadful scenario. Why I’m not disappointed by the continued noise about a Bush candidacy.

#9 Comment By HyperIon On October 6, 2014 @ 1:23 pm

Mark Halperin may be hilariously wrong now but I’ll save my laughter for another 18 months or so. Lots of things can change between then and now.

#10 Comment By Michael Sheridan On October 6, 2014 @ 1:55 pm

I’m with John up above. Hillary Clinton is a terrible candidate for the Democratic Party. She is just the “inevitable” candidate the party leaders and funders will support because she is highly unlikely to reform anything of importance, in any policy arena. She poses no threat to anyone who counts, and presents zero hope to anyone who doesn’t. Additionally, under her, we can virtually guarantee that the US will get needlessly embroiled in multiple needless foreign conflicts.

And yet, regardless, she is STILL better than anyone the GOP is going to put forward, because we’ve had ample opportunity to look over the field and there’s no longer any room left in that party for candidates of principle. I assure you, I truly don’t want to vote for Clinton (and absolutely won’t in the primary) but I seriously doubt I’ll have much alternative in the general. How incredibly sad and pathetic is that?

#11 Comment By Ethan On October 6, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

Some of us haven’t forgotten the Terry Schiavo case either. (and Jeb Bush’s role in that fiasco)

#12 Comment By JohnG On October 6, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

I am a big proponent of FRESH AIR. Enough with the dynasties already, what’s next, Chelsea Clinton after her mother?!

I predict further growth of 3rd parties if this nonsense continues. Last time around, I voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. We got 2% of the vote (which is actually pretty impressive given the media blockade), and it will continue to grow if this dynastic nonsense continues, as more voters eventually figure out that there ARE other places to go.

So GOP if you are thinking about recycling Romney, a Bush, or even worse a McCain, you can forget about my vote again. Rand Paul and we can maybe talk 🙂

PS Especially if it ends up being Clinton Vs. Bush, it’s not really a choice. Even more reason to vote one’s heart, and send a message to the establishment that change IS coming, whether they like it or not. Kind of like what UKIP is doing to the Conservative party over in the UK.

#13 Comment By BD On October 6, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

The Jeb buzz is no different from the Romney buzz–Republicans starting to panic when they realize they don’t have a likely candidate who seems like he could win the general election, so they reach out for any possibility with some name recognition and the plausible ability to run as a moderate.

The problem is Jeb has been out of office for almost a decade now, he’s associated with his brother and doesn’t seem to offer much that could appeal beyond the GOP base (though he seems to be floating ideas about immigration reform, but this appears to be able to hurt him with his base without much widening his appeal beyond them). There’s also just no reason to believe he can deliver what they think he could–there’s no reason to believe he’s a gifted politician who can take the nomination and storm into the general.

And that comes to the other problem the GOP has–it’s primary. What happened to Romney in ’12 can be repeated again–giving too much space to the lunatic fringe (Bachmann should never have been given a microphone, nor the “9-9-9” guy) and creating the very circular firing squad that basically introduced their nominee to the public after months of negative ads about him, a number of genuflections he had to make to the party’s extreme wing, and ultimately left him with high negatives by summer–just in time for the Democrats to pile on. Romney never had a prayer, even if he was a great politician (which he wasn’t).

Are the Republicans going to scuttle themselves one more time, forfeiting the election to the Democrats? What reason is there to believe they wouldn’t do this?

#14 Comment By John On October 6, 2014 @ 4:32 pm

@JohnG/2:50 p.m.:

There is a long line of third parties in American history, going back to the Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. None of them accomplished very much. In any district or voting entity where the third party isn’t doing the work of a second party where there is no functional Democratic or Republican participation, no third party ever will.

#15 Comment By tbraton On October 6, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

To echo Ethan, I voted for Jeb twice, but that was before the Terri Schiavo circus, when he worked first to get his state legislature and then the U.S. Congress involved in what was essentially a local and personal matter. As I recall, both the state statute and the federal statute were both ruled unconstitutional by the courts. But Jeb’s willingness to bring the federal government into a matter involving a family dispute that traditionally was left to local government and local courts to resolve speaks volumes about his willingness to allow his personal religious beliefs and what he wrongly perceived to be a political advantage to ride roughshod over traditional thoughts of how our political system should be ordered. Apparently, his political views on the Schiavo matter are cut from the same cloth as his views about a standardized, federally imposed educational curriculum on the lower level educational institutions traditionally run by state and local authorities.

#16 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 6, 2014 @ 6:15 pm

“Romney never had a prayer, even if he was a great politician (which he wasn’t).”

I think there was a window that closed by the second debate. I am not sure closed it, but it ay have been something in Gov. Romney himself, a if he suddenly lost steam and energy. Because I think you are correct, the mountain up the last eight years was of republican executive leadership was going to be very tough to overcome.

And the economy, not at all Pres. Bush’s fault alone, not even close. Was a serious body blow to any incumbent.

I am less concerned about family or even previous attempts and more concerned about content.

#17 Comment By AGD On October 6, 2014 @ 7:00 pm

Rand Paul is going to demolish Bush, Cruz, Rubio, et al in the primaries. And it may not be close. This will take the GOP establishment like a tidal wave, and it will be beautiful.

#18 Comment By JohnG On October 6, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

@John, your argument boils down to “nothing will ever change.”

Electric car was in the running early on in the automotive industry but that does not mean that it is condemned forever; it may actually come back a decade or two from now. The same thing with 3rd parties, just because they were unsuccessful in the past does not mean that they won’t ever be successful, or at least make a difference.

Granted, I believe you are right in the short run but it may be that we just have to think longer term; otherwise we are stuck with the deeply unsatisfying “choices” like Clinton Vs. Bush. And if this is the “choice” I’d rather cast a protest vote if I can’t make a difference anyway.

I am not saying that my perspective is more valid or legitimate than yours, just that it is not less valid a priori.

#19 Comment By CharleyCarp On October 6, 2014 @ 8:23 pm

As I’ve said previously, it’s all very well to identify the flaws in each candidate, and the Republican primary process is certainly toxic. But the one thing this guy has going for him is that he’d very likely be a better president than any of the other people likely to run for the Republican nomination. And that’s not nothing.

(WRT Sen. Paul, I haven’t seen anything at all that shows me that he’s going to be capable of standing up to the intelligence/security complex. It’s easy to take pot shots from a minority back bench in the Senate, but something else entirely to manage a hostile set of vast, complex, and out-of-control bureaucracies. The current incumbent seems utterly incapable of this task, even when he knows he’s right and they’re wrong . . .)

#20 Comment By CharleyCarp On October 6, 2014 @ 8:29 pm

In terms of fantasies, I find the recurring Third Party fantasy both far unlikelier to come true and far more harmful than the wish by political insiders that they could find a relatively mature, serious candidate for the highest office.

Really, people, it isn’t going to happen. Really. Spend all the money and effort you’d otherwise spend getting a third party of the ground on pushing whichever coalition you like in your direction. You won’t get much reward, I’ll admit, but it’s better than the third party route, which will yield absolutely nothing.

#21 Comment By Thomas O. Meehan On October 6, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

A Jeb Bush candidacy would trigger of crisis of confidence among rank and file GOP voters. How many times can the same people foist themselves on voters only to victimize those same voters?

Jeb is even more committed to immigration amnesty than his brother. As an oligarch crony he has no interest in policies that might generate employment for the average American. He is an internationalist with more connection to his economic peers in Europe and Mexico than with his fellow citizens.

His candidacy would lead to the demise of the GOP.

#22 Comment By John On October 7, 2014 @ 11:13 am

@JohnG/7:22 p.m.:

The nature of plurality voting systems is that they strangle third parties. If the Republicans can win a district just by their candidate having more votes than every other candidate in a general election, then it will be a long time before the Libertarians (as an example) win an election unless the district or seat in question is not competitive for Democrats. The Seattle city council election which returned a Socialist is a case in point from the other end of the spectrum: Socialists can win seats because Seattle’s electorate ranges from liberal to more liberal, and Republicans would be a third party as far as the Seattle city council is concerned.

I would hold hands with Republicans and Libertarians for instant runoff voting or anything that makes it easier for third parties to gain traction. Unfortunately, elected officials will likewise close ranks regardless of party around protecting the voting regime which has made their tenure possible.

#23 Comment By Will On October 7, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

A Jeb Bush 2016 election night would resemble Al Gore 2000, in that neither would be able to win their own state. The difference: Gore’s failure to win Tennessee cost him the presidency.

#24 Comment By David in MN On October 7, 2014 @ 6:35 pm

Following up on the comments made about the Schaivo case, it is worth remembering that Jeb Bush continued to play politics with that case even after Terri died. He ordered his AG to launch yet another investigation into her husband Michael. There isn’t a circle in hell low enough for a politician who would do something this disgraceful.