There is some whistling past the graveyard in this piece from The Hill:
Jeb Bush’s donors aren’t sounding the alarm — yet.
The former Florida governor had been labeled the GOP’s front-runner, but polls show he’s trailing Donald Trump by a wide margin. Even some supporters say he turned in a shaky performance at the first Republican debate earlier this month.
The son of one former president and brother of another also seems out of step with GOP voters who, at least according to polls, appear to be craving voices from outside conventional politics.
Some Bush supporters note that the rise of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who along with Trump are enjoying a post-debate bounce, appears to be fueled by a general discontent with establishment politicians.
The problem for Bush has always been who, exactly, is going to bother crawling out of bed to vote for him. Sure he excites the K Street guys and he excites the Chamber of Commerce executive suite but you can’t point to any section of the GOP primary electorate or the general population who thinks President Jeb Bush sounds worth voting for. His strategy has been to lock up the big donors, starve the competitors for cash, and then, Mitt-Romney-like, wait for them to exhaust their resources and fade.But in the Bush camp, hope is, indeed, a method:
Bush donors have been surprised by Trump’s strength and the durability of his poll numbers, which have kept him at the top of the GOP heap for about a month despite controversy after controversy.
Still, they believe Trump will stumble in the end and that their man will be a more acceptable second choice for many Republican voters.
“In short, Jeb is right on track!” Bush backer David Beightol said in a brief email responding to questions from The Hill.
The northeastern donor noted that the field now numbers 17 prominent Republican candidates, all splitting the vote.
“How many people do we think we will have in February 2016? Will there be more than four in New Hampshire? If there are, it won’t be many more than four. So that means 13 are not going to be there anymore. You have 40-odd percent that is going to go some place.
“Does it go to The Donald? The Donald has his fans, he may get some. But I think the majority are going to go to Jeb Bush. As people leave the field, voters are going to say, ‘My number two choice is Jeb Bush.’ ”
This is lunacy. As my colleague, and hardcore Donald Trump supporter, Neil Stevens noted earlier today, [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] is the preferred second choice for most voters. Conduct this thought experiment. Rank order the 17 candidates and start peeling off the weak gazelles at the water hole. Fiorina. Do her supporters go to Bush? I don’t see it. Rick Perry? No way. Pataki. Yes. Graham. Yes. Huckabee? A few but I suspect most of those go to Cruz or, every man’s second choice, Rubio. Kasich. Probably benefits Scott Walker but probably some Bush voters there. It is at that point that your model collapses on Bush. When/If Trump finally folds do you think his people go to an establishment tool like Jeb Bush? Me, neither.
Bush’s path to the White House is going to be no more a coronation than Hillary’s. He may have been a very conservative governor, but his style doesn’t match the mood of the American people and his big-government-solution conservatism foundered along with his brother’s ‘compassionate conservatism.’
The fact that the question is being asked and his donor base is making such ridiculous happy talk shows the seriousness of Bush’s dilemma. Under his original plan he should have frightened virtually all serious candidates from the race by his fundraising. He hasn’t. That shows everyone knows that the only way Bush wins the nomination is if the other 16 guys chain themselves together and set themselves on fire.