Why, Jeb? Many of us have asked this question. First as a query as to the reason for his candidacy and now as a plea for Bush to end his embarrassing candidacy.
The day of reckoning is fast approaching for the Jeb Bush 2016 juggernaut. As we’ve mentioned before, the unique selling proposition of the Jeb Bush candidacy was built on “I’m inevitable.” The strategy was to lock in major donors early, raise a ton of cash, scare most of his rivals out of the race and outlast the rest. Inevitability works great as a political strategy right up to that moment when you are no longer inevitable.
Things started out well. Bush entered the race with his Right to Rise Super PAC raising over $100 million. Then the whole ball of yarn started unraveling. Instead of scaring people off, sixteen more people jumped into the race. Many of them top shelf candidates who we would have cheered for in 2008 or 2012. Bush’s momentum stalled and he has been on a glide path, flying towards a cloud formation known as cumulo-granitus.
His poor showing in the polls could be held at bay if he had staying power. But, as we’ve noted, that isn’t the case. The 3Q fundraising report had his campaign in fourth place in cash-on-hand. More disturbing, it showed he had spent $3 million more in that quarter than he had raised. But his Super PAC still had a lot of money and it could raise more. This led to the head of Right to Rise to try to frighten people out of the race last week by threatening to “carpet bomb” the field and set up a Trump vs. Bush fight. Why he thought this would work or why he thought Bush would win that two-man fight after trashing more popular candidates is a matter for Mike Murphy and his therapist to work out… and it will probably involve electroshock and industrial quantities of psychotropic drugs.
Now we find out that the Bush campaign is in much worse shape than we had imagined:
The super PAC supporting Jeb Bush is racing through its massive war chest much faster than money is coming in, spending close to $50 million in a record blitz that has so far failed to lift the former Florida governor’s sputtering presidential candidacy.
The group, Right to Rise, has already gone through nearly half of the $103 million it brought in during the first half of the year, records show. It raised only about $13 million in the five months that followed, according to a person familiar with the figure.
That leaves the super PAC with about $67 million heading into the first 2016 GOP nominating contests. The sum still surpasses the resources of rival groups, but it is not clear whether Right to Rise’s financial might — viewed earlier this year as Bush’s distinct advantage — will be enough to help separate him from the pack.
But the picture is actually much, much, much, much worse. The $50 million is just direct expenditures supporting Bush’s candidacy.
The total — which does not include any money the group has spent on staff, polling and other operating expenses since the end of June — is close to five times what any other candidate-aligned super PAC has reported spending this year, according to Federal Election Commission reports tallied by the Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer.
(Here I have to give Mike Murphy props. I am saddled by a paucity of imagination — which would have kept me from thinking of ways of spending that much money — an a solidly Catholic sense of shame — which would have sent me running for a Trappist monastery had I spent this much money for this little result. But if you have lots of imagination and little shame, you, too, can be a very successful political consultant.)
What does Bush have to show for the effort other than a very nice collection of
Ginzu knives YouTube videos?
Despite the gusher of door hangers, mailers, online ads and TV spots produced by Right to Rise, however, Bush hovers between 3 and 5 percent in national polls — down from 12 to 15 percent in mid-July.
In Iowa, where Right to Rise has spent nearly $9.4 million since late June, Bush remains stalled in single digits. After the group blanketed New Hampshire with $18.5 million worth of TV ads and yard signs touting Bush, he dropped from a double-digit standing to between 5 and 9 percent support. And in South Carolina, he has fallen out of the top three among GOP presidential contenders, despite a $6.5 million super-PAC barrage on his behalf.
And there are these smoking results from the latest CBS/NYT poll:
At some point, Jeb Bush needs to man-up and pull the plug on this abomination of a campaign. His staying in the race is a distraction and may very well serve to keep a lot of other lower tier candidates going. Right To Rise could then devote its efforts on Hillary Clinton, or, alternatively, Mike Murphy could just take a nice long, expense paid trip somewhere and burn up the rest of the cash.
Why, Jeb? Indeed.