Bush/Palin 2016: the GOP's Only Chance?
Let's talk political reality first. To the question "can the GOP win in 2016?" The answer is "yes, but only if they win Florida." If by 9 pm on election night 2016 the early results indicate Florida has gone to the Democrat, then Republicans of all stripes could simply turn off their televisions, as there would be no path to victory in the Electoral College.
Would Jeb Bush have as good a chance, or better, than any other prospective GOP candidate? Most certainly he might. As a popular Governor of Florida, married to a Hispanic, and who garnered a good proportion of the Hispanic vote, Bush would be in a strong position to carry the state.
Electoral College reality shows that Florida is an essential beginning, with North Carolina/Virginia also having to be in the GOP's column as the evening wears on. Bush, as a former Governor of a Southern state, would not, at least, be at a disadvantage to any other prospective Republican candidates chances in those two states.
Even with those three states in the bag, the GOP would still not be in a winning position without Ohio and one from New Hampshire/Iowa/Colorado/Nevada, at which point they would squeak through by only two electoral votes. It is possible to win without Virginia, but extremely challenging. Again, on the face of it, Jeb Bush would not be at a disadvantage compared to any other prospective Republican candidate in these states, and might have an advantage over some in Iowa appealing to Evangelicals, and in New Hampshire appealing to centrists.
Thus, looking at the 2016 election purely in Electoral College terms, Jeb Bush would appear to be in a position to do no worse than any other prospective candidate and, in crucial states, he might do better.
The Electoral College would be of a secondary consideration should President Obama be as unpopular as G.W. Bush was in 2008, and the economy still in a suboptimal situation as regards the unemployment figures after eight years of a Democrat president. Under those circumstances it would not necessarily matter who the GOP candidate was, as electoral victory would be more or less a given. At that point the GOP establishments call for an "electable" candidate would have no resonance and a genuine conservative, a Palin for example, would have every chance for the nomination and subsequent election as president.
If however the economy has improved, or is seen to be improving, and especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democrat's candidate, then the "electability" and Electoral College arguments would have some substantial force and credibility. But it would be of no avail to have an "electable" centrist if the Palinite, conservative forces didn't vote. Although Evangelicals turned out for Romney in 2012, two million Perotite White voters stayed home. Running another centrist in the Dole/McCain/Romney line is no formula for ensuring a maximized conservative turnout. Neither is running a perceived conservative like Paul Ryan for VP a guarantee, as the Romney/Ryan ticket proved.
In the scenario outlined above, i.e. a Clinton candidacy during a relatively non-negative economic and political environment, a centrist presidential candidate with a charismatic conservative VP running mate may be the GOP's only best hope. A Jeb Bush/president - Sarah Palin/vice-president ticket covers all the Electoral College, Evangelical, pro-life, centrist-conservative, experienced governorships, male/female bases.
Both are strongly vetted and most certainly there is nothing in Palin's life that has not be diced and sliced, disproved and shown to be a product of leftist hate. Even in liberal circles there has been grudging acceptance that Jeb Bush ran a successful administration in Florida and that he is "Not George W."
Palin is not the media neophyte she was in 2008, and never again would be the subject of the astonishing MSM/Blogosphere hate and ambush that she was then. A Bush/Palin team would be a candidacy of ideas, from experienced campaigners, which would have to be addressed by the opposition media and Dem's without the distraction of lurid media "scandals."
A Hillary Clinton candidacy would require a woman on the GOP's ticket to negate the "it's time for a woman in the White House" meme. With the balanced ticket, Bush's appeal to Hispanics and, according to Real Clear Politics, the even more important possibility of a dropoff in Black turnout allied to an increase in White voters to the polls, even a Clinton candidacy can be overcome.
The GOP establishment shunning Palin to the point of, once again, not even inviting her to speak to the nominating convention, would be the height of stupidity and a guarantee of a suboptimal conservative turnout. Having Palin on the ticket would, bring in a massive energy, enthusiasm and commitment from her great mass of supporters, as she did for McCain in the most hopeless of circumstances.
Objections to the Bush/Palin team concept would include "the country wouldn't want another Bush." That argument had force up until this year, but as the Obama administration sinks in popularity and credibility, G.W. Bush rises in both, and by 2016 his administration would be a memory which many might see through rose-colored glasses. Certainly "it's all Bush's fault" would be a ludicrous battle cry after eight years of Obama.
As for Palin, again, everything possible has been thrown at her and the "she's dumb and thinks Africa is a country" nonsense is tired and silly, and would be lampooned if trotted out again. The "heartbeat away from the presidency" loses its force with Bush being much younger than McCain, and Palin having been a commentator with authority on all and sundry during her Fox consultancy years. She would of course be more than a capable debater as she proved with Biden in 2008.
Would Palin accept the VP slot again? Only she could answer that, but given her dedication to America, but if she was given the freedom to campaign as was denied to her by the McCain team, it is of course a possibility. It would hold out to her the chance of a run of her own after eight years, when she would still be relativity young, and would of course be vastly experienced. Running with a pro-life Catholic would not be a barrier to Palin's views it could fairly be stated.
Would Palin's supporters accept her being VP? Speaking for myself if Palin accepted the role then I would, as an uncompromising Palin supporter, support the ticket wholeheartedly (after a wistful consideration of the ticket being the other way around). Some Palin supporters might insist that "Palin would never accept being the VP candidate again" and raise many valid objections. But none of them can speak for Palin herself, and time, place, and realistic assessments can make seemingly impossible pairings e.g. Reagan/Bush possible.
Immigration and establishment ties would appear to be the main divide for conservatives. The seemingly impossible Bush/Palin pairing would not be affected by the current immigration controversy which saw Bush plead for more immigrants at the Faith and Freedom Conference. That Palin made a seeming dig at Bush for his "fertile" comment is nothing compared to G.W.H's "voodoo economics" attack on Reagan. Bush self-described himself to Christian Broadcasting News CBN as pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-tax cuts.
By 2016 the immigration issue will have been addressed, and legislation will have passed, despite conservative objections and be under implementation, or it will have failed to pass. If the former, then the internal GOP divide on the issue could only be patched over with a Bush/Palin pairing (or Cruz if she does not wish to run). If the proposed "gang of eight" legislation fails then the pairing might be the only hope of keeping the GOP establishment on board for the election.
A sure sign that the establishment sees Jeb Bush as a possible candidate is Time Magazine running a major feature: "Has Jeb's time come." What the article doesn't address is how to effect "Jeb's time" without the support of the Palinite rank and file.
Would Bush accept the VP slot? There would be every reason for him to do so. If the ticket won he would be the heir apparent without question. If the ticket lost he would have proven his loyalty to the conservative wing and would be the absolute front runner for 2020.
The Palin/Bush pairing (which works either way) would see the rifts in the GOP healed over, a united team with massive resources in finance, manpower and credibility, and a very real path to Electoral College victory -- an historic compromise for the restoration of a conservative America. All this is moot of course if the immigration crisis splits the GOP asunder -- which might well lead be a Bush versus Palin primary campaign.