What’s happened to Bush during the past three months? Nationally, Bush was running second in July with an average poll rating of 13 to 14 percent. Today he’s fallen to just about 8 percent and is fourth overall. In Iowa, his average has dropped a couple of points (within the margin of error) and his standing is now fifth rather than third. In New Hampshire, he’s gone from second place in the poll average to fifth and his support has fallen several points.
With Kasich and Christie farther down, Bush and Rubio are seen on a collision course in the mainstream conservative competition. Rubio has gotten the better of the coverage of late, the aspirational fresh face versus a candidate with experience and a family name that is a mixed blessing. Rubio’s debate performances have been well praised, and his approach to campaigning similarly has been commended for its patience and potential.
There are caveats, however. Rubio raised less than half of what Bush collected in the third quarter. In fact, he raised a million and a half dollars less than Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who quit the race last month. He raised about as million less than Carly Fiorina.
The same holds for what the polls show. Between July and today, Rubio’s poll numbers nationally have ticked up a point and he continues to occupy third place. In Iowa, he’s lost a point and has dropped from fifth to sixth. In New Hampshire, he’s also lost a point and dropped one place, to seventh. This is not evidence of a surge. If Bush has performed below expectations as a candidate, Rubio has not yet played up to the potential for attracting support that some Republicans see in him.