It’s official: Jeb Bush is no longer the leading contender to become the Republican candidate for president. Instead, prediction markets now rate Marco Rubio as far more likely to get the nod.
One broad measure of the betting markets puts Mr. Rubio’s chances at 34 percent versus Mr. Bush’s at 23 percent.
The extent of this reversal is stark. Mr. Bush’s name recognition, executive experience and links to the Republican establishment led the betting markets to rate him the most likely winner even before he announced his candidacy. He took an early and commanding lead in fund-raising and won the most endorsements from fellow Republicans. He also led in most national polls, at least until mid-July, when Donald Trump wrestled the national spotlight from him and has continued to entertain its bright glare. Recent polls suggest that only around 7 percent of potential Republican voters plan to vote for Mr. Bush.Indeed, Philip Rucker, Ed O'Keefe and Sean Sullivan write at The Washington Post that Bush is cutting salaries.
Privately, some donors have been fretting and eyeing Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who won plaudits for his debate performances and has shown momentum in polls as an establishment alternative. Donors said senior campaign officials have sought to quiet their concerns. Finance director Heather Larrison held a conference call this week explaining the steps the campaign was taking to improve its financial outlook.
But one Bush fundraiser who requested anonymity to speak freely said: “It feels very much like a death spiral, and it breaks my heart. I don’t know anyone who wants to reinvest now.” The campaign, this person added, has been “head-scratchingly bad in every element. I wouldn’t be shocked in 60 days from now if he wasn’t in the race.”What happened to Bush? Henry Olsen compares him to Rip Van Winkle:
If this seems harsh, consider the facts. Jeb has not run for office since his easy re-election in 2002. He has not had a tight, competitive race since 1998, and he has not run in a GOP primary since 1994. When Jeb ran his tough races, his brother had not yet won the Presidency; 9/11 had not happened; economic growth was both plentiful and widely shared. Latino immigration had not yet reached the level that has sparked the immigration wars of the last decade, and the Republican base had not exploded in anger over the sense that its leadership, including his brother, had betrayed them time and time again.
And, of course, Barack Obama had not yet been elected. Obama’s ambitious agenda has moved the country much farther to the left than when Bush was active in politics.
One can see how Bush has struggled with these changes time and time again. His two policy passions seem to be education and immigration reform. These were state of the art conservative priorities in 2000 when W ran, but have long since stopped being animating features of the movement. NCLB is widely derided on the right and Common Core is seen as the further federalization of education in the same vein as his brother’s landmark effort. Doubling down on these priorities, as Bush has done, has simply reinforced the notion that he is running on yesterday’s platform.