Jeb Bush has ordered pay cuts and a new focus on the early voting states for his campaign. While building an infrastructure fit to run a general election, Bush has slipped in the primary.
Following the news, the Washington Post reported on a grim outlook for the Bush campaign. The most damaging quote came from a donor who said, “I wouldn’t be shocked in 60 days from now if he wasn’t in the race.”
While there is certainly pessimism from Bush supporters, the question is whether or not it is warranted. A closer look at the numbers shows that comparatively speaking Bush is not in much trouble and New Hampshire remains a bright spot.
Nationally, Bush’s fall has slowed and he has settled into the seven percent range. Even though that is roughly twenty percentage points behind frontrunner Donald Trump, it is still high enough for Bush to be in fifth nationally. He is behind Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Senator Marco Rubio, and Senator Ted Cruz. Rubio poses a far greater danger to Bush than Trump because the two are both from Florida and are competing for the establishment support. Rubio has also shined in his debate performances while Bush’s debating has been largely forgettable.
Iowa has never been a bright spot for Bush. Iowa’s Republican caucus is heavy on conservative grassroots support and evangelical appeal. Bush has struggled with the grassroots as he tries to make a case for why a third Bush should be elected President. Bush’s positions on education and immigration do not help him in the state. Bush has never polled especially well in the state and he currently garners five percent support. However, the fractured field and high levels of support for Trump and Carson does cause that to be high enough for fifth place.
New Hampshire represents one of the Bush campaign’s brightest opportunities for an early state win. Bush has done well in the state, but Trump has been dominant in the state. New Hampshire’s delegates are awarded proportionally so Bush does not necessarily have to place first. Bush is running third in the state behind Trump and Carson. However, Bush has had to compete against Fiorina and Kasich in the state as both have put a focus on the first in the nation primary. Kasich could pose a danger to Bush as both are going after the same kind of voter.
There has been little polling on South Carolina, but the existing polling shows Bush in fifth or sixth place with six percent.
Bush’s home state of Florida, where he was twice elected Governor, was originally a bright spot for the campaign. He has since fallen to fourth, albeit still having double-digit support. More importantly, he has fallen behind Rubio, his former protege. Some analysts have predicted that following the Florida primary, one of the two Floridians will drop out.
While the good news for the Bush campaign is that it seems to have settled in the middle of the pack, the perception is still poor. Bush is a former frontrunner and he has raised some of the highest amounts of money. This is in addition to how both his father and his brother have won the Presidency. Bush has struggled with an ethusiasm gap as some of his early support came from the lack of well-known opponents. Donald Trump came in with high name recognition and a willingness to attack Bush for his “low energy” and the records of his family.