Jeb!

Oct. 26th, 2015 12:00 pm
dexfarkin: (me)
[personal profile] dexfarkin
The number of articles talking about how Jeb! Bush should drop out for the good of the Republican Party have swelled, especially in time with the revelation that he's being forced to cut staff at his campaign. I actually agree with the idea that it would help, although I don't necessarily think it is for the good of the party but that it would allow them to open up the field past the early primaries. But, for that reason, I doubt it will happen. There's a couple of reasons why.

1. Jeb! is one of the few GOP candidates with a credible ground game in place past Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. Rubio has one that is slow building, Trump has been making investments, and most of the others at least have some kind of framework. But Jeb! is actively organizing already, and the GOTV in the primaries is the only way for an unexciting candidate like Bush to match the media-driven interest of his main opponents.

2. Republican primary support is incredibly soft. Primary votes have shown ridiculous variance, which again, means that a ground game that isn't based around media cycles has the capacity to scale up quickly in response to a gaffe and exploit it. A weird come to Jesus moment in the response to Iowa results by a candidate could erode support down the scale and quickly.

3. Jeb! is not a good campaigner, but he is an experienced one. While he's been a trainwreck during debates and interviews, it's largely because he's been unable to frame himself against Trump, which is pretty much the worst tactic he could have taken. The problem, of course, is that his handlers have let him fire back off the cuff, which plays into Trump's strengths. If he could pivot back to his policy platform and accept the fact that he's going to be the boring candidate, he'd pick up support.

In short, Jeb! still can't win the general election, but he's not going to drop out of the primaries because he thinks he's got traction to make a big upset on Super Tuesday, even if he gets hammered in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. That belief isn't entirely without credibility, as he still has structural strengths that some of the front runners don't. The popular myth is that if Bush drops out, his organization will flow most likely to Rubio, who is emerging as an institutional choice. But I don't buy that. I think if Bush drops out, his organization wouldn't move ideologically but instead strategically, which makes it even more possible that a Trump, Cruz, or Carson will be able to subsume a credible political machine into their bombastic campaigns, which would make them even more formidable.
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