Bush donors are realizing that the race is not going as they had hoped, but they can’t really believe that they were so wrong.
Here is a headline from The Hill that exudes confidence: “Bush donors not panicking — yet.”
The former Florida governor had been labeled the GOP’s front-runner, but polls show he’s trailing Donald Trump by a wide margin. Even some supporters say he turned in a shaky performance at the first Republican debate earlier this month.
The son of one former president and brother of another also seems out of step with GOP voters who, at least according to polls, appear to be craving voices from outside conventional politics.
Some Bush supporters note that the rise of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and businesswoman Carly Fiorina, who along with Trump are enjoying a post-debate bounce, appears to be fueled by a general discontent with establishment politicians.
“Trump is not a politician, Carly is not a politician, Carson is not a politician,” said one Bush donor from a northeastern state. “All of these people seem to be resonating with the voters.
“Look at what is happening on the other side,” the donor continued. “Not long ago, it was Hillary [Clinton] with 67 [percent support] or something and everyone else with ten. All of a sudden, you have Bernie Sanders with 28,000 people in Portland and he is six points behind her. God bless him! But there is some kind of unrest or unhappiness with the establishment.”
Bush donors have been surprised by Trump’s strength and the durability of his poll numbers, which have kept him at the top of the GOP heap for about a month despite controversy after controversy.
Still, they believe Trump will stumble in the end and that their man will be a more acceptable second choice for many Republican voters.
“In short, Jeb is right on track!” Bush backer David Beightol said in a brief email responding to questions from The Hill.
As I pointed out yesterday, I don’t think this reasoning makes any sense. Yes, Trump will stumble. Personally, I hope he does. But so what? If Trump loses his popularity what would make people who were excited about Donald Trump turn to Jeb Bush? They wouldn’t. The entire attraction of Trump is that he is seen as the opposite of Jeb Bush.
These Jeb Bush donors may not be panicking yet. But people who make bad investments often are unwilling to face reality when they are faced with the possibility that they are wasting their money.