The Jeb! Uncertainty Principle-By Keith McCrea

The Jeb! Uncertainty Principle Written by Keith McCrea

Conventional wisdom has long held that when the dust clears, the Trump fever breaks, and the collective intelligence (ahem) of the Republican primary voter kicks in, support will more than likely coalesce around former Florida governor Jeb Bush. In addition to being informed by history – his damnfool brother and charisma-free dad had, after all, been elected president – it also seemed intuitively correct because Republican primary voters have historically been amenable to heirs-apparent. It represents lazy thinking, but lazy thinking runs like a carcinogenic thru election prognostications throughout political history.

Largely because I find it hard to care yet about the state of the GOP primary, I have fallen victim to this lazy thinking when it comes to Jeb! myself. Last weak, I glibly suggested that Jeb was little threat because, unlike his war pig brother, no one – and I mean no one – wants to have a beer with John Ellis Bush. While I was quick to congratulate myself on my witticism, it led me to spend some time doing actual thinking about how this Bush is faring in the polls. Not surprisingly, the conventional wisdom quickly seemed inadequate.

What I have discovered is something kind of surprising. In order for Jeb! to fulfill the prophesies of the Halperin/Scarborough set, voters would have to migrate from an ever-dwindling field of Establishment candidates to their logical home supporting the Bush Dynasty. While we have only lost two Establishment candidates (Walker and Perry) so far, many others have already been effectively sidelined by their complete lack of support. Sen. Graham and Gov. Jindal never actually had supporters so, by definition, their none-existent supporters couldn’t migrate anywhere anymore than passenger pigeons could flock to Bush. Gov. Christie’s campaign has gone one way (down) since he announced. His support, however, actually did exist. From March thru May of this year, his support hovered between the mid-teens and low twenties. As he’s slid down to the MoE range of 2-3%, one would expect the serious-minded, Establishment voters attracted by Gov. Christie would, naturally, turn to Jeb Bush.

Except they didn’t and no other Establishment candidates’ voters have either. Bush has, in fact, also slid from the teens and low twenties to his current sevenish percent during that same time window. Walker, whose campaign saw a similar slide (albeit over a longer time horizon, from February to July), also apparently offered no voters to Bush. Kasich, who has never risen above mid-single digits nationally, is doing better here in NH and thus a non-analogous case while Sen. Rubio has stayed between 5%-10% since the beginning of the race.

Let me cite an example. In a 4/26 – 4/30 WSJ/NBC poll, the combined Walker/Christie/Bush vote amounts to 42%. It now amounts to 11.4%, slightly more than a third of the vote it commanded in April. While I grant you it is very, very early in the process, one can be forgiven for thinking that maybe, just maybe, the people voting in the GOP primaries this year are less serious-minded, sober, Establishment Republicans and more the lunatics who have, at long last, taken over the GOP asylum.

The polls cited above were found here.