Jeb Bush speaks during a town hall meeting at the Music Man Square on Sept. 21 in Mason City, Iowa. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Support for Jeb Bush’s campaign appears to be flagging as lesser-known Republican rivals continue to pick up steam.
The former Florida governor had been considered the Republican Party’s frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race until this summer’s media circus propelled real estate tycoon Donald Trump to the front of the pack.
In Trump’s wake, the overcrowded GOP field has received a remarkable amount of attention. Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were quick to capitalize on the heightened coverage and have quickly climbed in the polls. Bush, on the other hand, suffered the greatest fall.
Top GOP donors have reportedly told Bush that he will start hemorrhaging fundraisers if he does not rev up momentum in the polls — which don’t look pretty.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, completed last Thursday, shows that Bush’s support was cut in half from July to September — from 14 to 7 percent. He fell in the eyes of all demographics surveyed: men, women, young, old, talk-radio listeners, liberals, conservatives and tea party voters.
Bush experienced the greatest setback, according to the WSJ, among the most important group for his campaign’s survival: likely voters in the GOP primary, whose “positive feelings” about the candidate dropped from 50 to 39 percent.
Similarly, a CNN/WMUR New Hampshire poll reveals that his support among Republican primary voters fell from 16 to 7 percent from June to September in the battleground state.
Jeb Bush speaks to supporters at the Music Man Square in Mason City, Iowa. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP)
PredictIt, a political and financial prediction website, registered this sea change and now forecasts Rubio as the party’s champion. Up until this week, Bush’s campaign could at least cling to that as an argument for their candidate’s strength.
One Bush donor, who wished to remain anonymous, suggested to Politico that it is unclear whether panic or paranoia has hit the Bush campaign, which organized last-minute fundraising in Miami.
“I think it’s just reflective of what’s been going on for the past month or so and the way the race, at least in the establishment lane, has shifted,” the donor told the political paper. “It’s really Jeb or Marco now. Marco’s fundraising has picked up and Jeb’s has stayed flat.”
Another longtime GOP insider, again speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Washington Post that Bush plans to be the most popular viable candidate once the party’s establishment looks for an alternative to outsiders Trump, Fiorina and Carson.
“But that assumption is not something the Bush campaign can count on,” the source said. “Rubio has now eclipsed Jeb as the most popular remaining item on the menu.”
Regardless, the Bush campaign remains a powerhouse and has money to burn. The Right to Rise Super PAC, which is dedicated to a Bush victory, raised over $103,000,000 in the first six months of the year alone.
Bush is scheduled to give a speech at Rice Energy Inc., in Canonsburg, Pa., Tuesday about his proposed energy plan should he win the 2016 White House race. He would lift restrictions on crude oil and natural gas exports while fighting the carbon emission reductions President Obama placed on U.S. power plants.
Daniel J. Weiss, vice president of campaigns for the League of Conservation Voters, issued a statement calling Bush’s plan a “carbon bomb" that ignores sound science.
“To please big oil and the other polluters that fund his campaign, Bush is ignoring the majority of Republican voters who believe the climate is changing,” he said. “This plan threatens public health and economic growth by dumping millions of tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.”
Trump has repeatedly criticized Bush for allegedly being in the pockets of his donors.
The Bush campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News.