The Republicans’ worst 2016 nightmare could be unfolding before their eyes, as they are early signs that Jeb Bush is crashing and burning.
National Journal reported on the Bush nightmare scenario:
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.
Jeb Bush is not looking like the front-runner backup option that the Republican establishment thought they were getting. Bush’s biggest problem is that the one thing that many Democrats and Republicans are unified on is that they don’t want another Bush presidency. Republicans dutifully supported the fatally flawed Mitt Romney because he sold them on the foolish idea that he could beat President Obama, but they never warmed up to Romney, and his support was more indicative of their deep contempt for the President than any love for Mitt.
Without their Obama boogeyman to run against in 2016, Republicans are free to go with their hearts, and their hearts are right-wing unelectable. It is not unrealistic to picture a scenario where the Florida primary becomes a must win for Jeb Bush, who leads early in New Hampshire but has no clear path to victory in the other early voting states of the Republican primary.
If Bush crashes and burns, it will set off a free for all for the Republican nomination. It is easy to see a situation where Bush falls apart while Hillary Clinton gets to hold her fire and ample resources for the General Election. It is early, but the dullness of Jeb could set Republicans up for a long and bloody primary fight.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association