The most unpopular $100-million candidate in history

Jeb Bush is poised to make his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination official today.  He will announce his intentions at Miami Dade College in a speech where, at least once, he is going to assure his listeners that he is a good conservative and can beat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

The Bush fundraising steamroller is impressive.  By the end of this month, his super-PAC, Right to Rise, will have raised close to $100 million, far and away the most of any declared or undeclared candidate.  But he is currently the choice of only about 12% of the GOP electorate.  And fully a quarter of Republican voters swear they will never vote for him.

The crosstabs to this recent Fox poll tell the story.  Only 5% of Tea Party Republicans support him, while he gets 14% of those over the age of 45.  He does poorly among evangelicals but leads all candidates among those making more than $50,000 a year.

In short, despite his unpopularity on the internet and with the Tea Party, Jeb Bush is a serious candidate because he appeals to a healthy slice of the GOP electorate: male, upper-middle-class, white, and middle-aged.  The voters who fit this profile go to the polls in the greatest numbers among the Republican electorate.

But Bush has massive problems with the rest of the party on immigration, Common Core, and the very fact that his name is Bush.

CNN:

Should Clinton capture the Democratic nomination, a 2016 campaign between Bush and Clinton would undoubtedly be clouded by questions about legacy, nepotism and the vitality of a political system seemingly dominated by a pair of powerful families with close ties to wealthy elites in Washington and on Wall Street.

Those anxieties would unfold against the backdrop of an America confronting dramatic shifts in demographics, economic behaviors and generational tastes, challenging the maxim that presidential campaigns are about the future rather than the past.

Before that dynamic comes to pass, the pragmatic Bush must first overcome the more pressing challenge of securing the GOP nomination, a steep hill to climb for a self-styled reformer who has called for an ever-more-conservative Republican Party to temper its rhetoric, change its thinking and expand its appeal to nontraditional voters. In pre-campaign visits to the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Bush promised to run a "joyful" campaign that capitalizes on optimism rather than fear.

"I don't know if I would be a good candidate or a bad one, but I kinda know how a Republican could win, whether it's me or somebody else, and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive," Bush said at a December event for business leaders hosted by the Wall Street Journal.

The Republican nominee, Bush said at the time, must be willing to "lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles."

For a cerebral policy maven who has rankled conservatives with his full-throated support for comprehensive immigration reform, the education standards known as Common Core and "revenue enhancement" in pursuit of a federal budget deal, it was an early and defining statement that will be challenged by the bruising gantlet of Republican caucuses and primaries that select the party's nominee.

Already tagged with the dreaded "moderate" label by some conservatives and fending off questions about his brother, Bush opens the campaign with even less good will among Republican voters than Mitt Romney had at the outset of the 2012 race, polls show.

And that's saying something.  Nobody believed Romney's "conversion" to conservatism, which directly led to his defeat, when about 5 million evangelicals and others on the right stayed home on election day.  Romney's Mormonism had something to do with that, but his downfall was more a matter of his inauthenticity than his religious beliefs.

Jeb Bush thinks he can maintain his positions on the issues and win through in the end.  With Governor Scott Walker a clear alternative to Bush – more conservative, equally able to raise money, and no worse a speaker – that strategy may not work.

Jeb Bush is poised to make his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination official today.  He will announce his intentions at Miami Dade College in a speech where, at least once, he is going to assure his listeners that he is a good conservative and can beat Hillary Clinton in the general election.

The Bush fundraising steamroller is impressive.  By the end of this month, his super-PAC, Right to Rise, will have raised close to $100 million, far and away the most of any declared or undeclared candidate.  But he is currently the choice of only about 12% of the GOP electorate.  And fully a quarter of Republican voters swear they will never vote for him.

The crosstabs to this recent Fox poll tell the story.  Only 5% of Tea Party Republicans support him, while he gets 14% of those over the age of 45.  He does poorly among evangelicals but leads all candidates among those making more than $50,000 a year.

In short, despite his unpopularity on the internet and with the Tea Party, Jeb Bush is a serious candidate because he appeals to a healthy slice of the GOP electorate: male, upper-middle-class, white, and middle-aged.  The voters who fit this profile go to the polls in the greatest numbers among the Republican electorate.

But Bush has massive problems with the rest of the party on immigration, Common Core, and the very fact that his name is Bush.

CNN:

Should Clinton capture the Democratic nomination, a 2016 campaign between Bush and Clinton would undoubtedly be clouded by questions about legacy, nepotism and the vitality of a political system seemingly dominated by a pair of powerful families with close ties to wealthy elites in Washington and on Wall Street.

Those anxieties would unfold against the backdrop of an America confronting dramatic shifts in demographics, economic behaviors and generational tastes, challenging the maxim that presidential campaigns are about the future rather than the past.

Before that dynamic comes to pass, the pragmatic Bush must first overcome the more pressing challenge of securing the GOP nomination, a steep hill to climb for a self-styled reformer who has called for an ever-more-conservative Republican Party to temper its rhetoric, change its thinking and expand its appeal to nontraditional voters. In pre-campaign visits to the early nominating states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Bush promised to run a "joyful" campaign that capitalizes on optimism rather than fear.

"I don't know if I would be a good candidate or a bad one, but I kinda know how a Republican could win, whether it's me or somebody else, and it has to be much more uplifting, much more positive," Bush said at a December event for business leaders hosted by the Wall Street Journal.

The Republican nominee, Bush said at the time, must be willing to "lose the primary to win the general without violating your principles."

For a cerebral policy maven who has rankled conservatives with his full-throated support for comprehensive immigration reform, the education standards known as Common Core and "revenue enhancement" in pursuit of a federal budget deal, it was an early and defining statement that will be challenged by the bruising gantlet of Republican caucuses and primaries that select the party's nominee.

Already tagged with the dreaded "moderate" label by some conservatives and fending off questions about his brother, Bush opens the campaign with even less good will among Republican voters than Mitt Romney had at the outset of the 2012 race, polls show.

And that's saying something.  Nobody believed Romney's "conversion" to conservatism, which directly led to his defeat, when about 5 million evangelicals and others on the right stayed home on election day.  Romney's Mormonism had something to do with that, but his downfall was more a matter of his inauthenticity than his religious beliefs.

Jeb Bush thinks he can maintain his positions on the issues and win through in the end.  With Governor Scott Walker a clear alternative to Bush – more conservative, equally able to raise money, and no worse a speaker – that strategy may not work.