Another Bush? Will Jeb run for the White House?

Jeb Bush said: “I’ll make up my mind the end of the year” on whether to seek the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Questions:

1. If he runs for presidency his biggest problem is probably his surname, isn’t it? What his biggest asset?

2. Would you say he will run or not, and why?

Answers:

David McCuanAssistant Professor of Political Science, Sonoma State University

1. The nation still is unresolved, but not quite agnostic, on the “Bush” surname in American presidential politics.  The name suffers from brand fatigue to a certain degree and yet the GOP finds itself wide open for 2016.  The primary and caucus schedules have changed…the money race is open…and from a campaign organization perspective, Jeb could be up and running in no time flat with a seasoned team of national Republican campaign operatives.  His biggest asset?  Something that has little to do with his name…it is very, very difficult in the modern presidential era, for the incumbent party to win THREE presidential elections in a row.  Of course, Jeb’s father did this in 1988, but that is really the exception not the rule.  It just doesn’t happen in the modern era much.  So the biggest asset is that Dems face strong headwinds against their eventual nominee.  Now if that nominee is HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton), well, we might see a stronger challenge to this rule.

2. At this juncture, and it is early so this is my reading of the tea leaves only, both he and HRC are in…it’s the new political royalty of America battling it out once more.  I suppose Chelsea and one of the offspring of a Bush will also meetsometime down the road in the 2030 era…at that point, it’ll be like the endless series of Rocky Balboa movies.

Jeb is speculating and kicking the tires to see if that presidential car can hunt because it can.  It’s fun…draws attention to him…and he can test his ability to move the GOP in his direction, which has some moderating tendencies to try and tap into the changing demographics and shift in general beliefs across the country that benefit the Dems right now and moving forward.  Why can he be in the race?  Because the GOP doesn’t want to be out in the political wilderness as a permanent majority party of the legislative branch only….open questions remain though if he can build a new GOP in his likeness or if he’s just content to be on the sidelines.

2016 is shaping up to be a lot more entertaining than those Rocky vs. XYZ movies at this point…

Steven GreeneAssociate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University

1. I think you could make an argument that an equally big problem is his moderate position on both education policy, and especially immigration policy, which do not go over well with the more conservative elements (i.e., Tea Party) of the Republican Party.  I personally have a hard time imagining someone on the record in such a moderate way actually winning the Republican Primaries—of which roughly half the voters are Tea Party supporters (i.e., express sympathy with the Tea Party).  And his surname is definitely a big problem—especially so with these very same conservative voters.  Now, Mitt Romney was among the most moderate of the Republicans in 2012, but he said everything the Tea Party wanted whether he actually believed it or not.  Jeb Bush has not shown a similar inclination thus far.  And they seem primed to distrust him because right-wing conservatives have largely rejected both his brother and his father.

His biggest asset is that the moneyed interests in the Republican Party—the one’s who largely supported Romney—appear to be big fans.  You definitely need more than money to win the nomination, but strong support—both financial and otherwise—from “mainstream” or “establishment” Republicans goes a long way.  With Chris Christie seemingly damaged, Jeb Bush also represents the strongest hope of the establishment wing of the Republican Party.

2. My guess—pure speculation—is that he will not run.  He strikes me as a smart, astute politician who will recognize that to actually win the GOP nomination he will have to transform himself into a fundamentally different politician, ideologically speaking.  Mitt Romney was willing to do so, but I suspect Jeb Bush is not.  Just a guess, though.

Steffen SchmidtUniversity Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University

1. His biggest problem is that a big part of the Republican Party has now moved further to the right than Jeb and the entire Bush family. I think he can actually build on the Bush I (father) accomplishments and approval rating in the eyes of Americans. Remember that the GOP is now a far right party with Tea Party activists having held a gun at the head of “moderate” or “establishment” Republicans of which Jeb Bush is a part.

However, the Tea Party base has suddenly lost its “Mojo” as Americans say! There is evidence that they are not challenging elected, moderate Republicans so the party may be moving back to a less radical conservative agenda and that could help people like Bush. Also note that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is very popular and is a Libertarian who spoke at the U of California at Berkeley a few weeks ago, the center of liberalism and socialism and was well received!

2. I think there is a very good chance 65% or so that he is considering running in the Iowa Caucuses and subsequent primaries. I also think that he will get substantial support on the second big event the New Hampshire primary which follows Iowa and where Independents (no-party) voters can vote in the Republican primary. In Iowa he could come in third or so with Rand Paul and Rick Santorum (both of them are coming to speak at the Iowa GOP meeting in June) also in the top three. I think the time may be right for another Bush!

Matthew Eshbaugh-SohaAssistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of North Texas

1. Jeb Bush’s biggest asset is also his biggest problem, as you know, the name, Bush!  Certainly, this will not endear him right away to Democrats or even Independents.  It may also cause some consternation among Republicans.  Remember that Republicans have to show their conservative stripes to win the primaries and Bush has acted more moderately in his post-governor career.  I think that Republican primary voters concerns about his conservative credentials are more likely to be problematic for him that his name.

2. If he were to run, then I think he is likely to wait a while to see how the field shapes up.  I would suspect that if he did run, he would enter next summer and he would jump to the lead in the polls.  One thing Republicans do not have at the moment is a clear front runner.  And as we saw in 2012, Republicans tend to get excited about the new guy who enters the race (see Perry, then Cain, who both rocketed to the top of the polls for a time), mainly because they are not sure who they want to nominate and, perhaps more importantly, they want someone who they think can win in the general election.

My sense, however, is that he will not run.  I think it should be clear to him that he will not survive the Republican primaries because he is not conservative enough in the eyes of voters who participate in those contests.

I say that with one caveat: many Republican primaries are winner-take-all, and so, in a close three-person race, Bush could squeak out many a primary victory without being the conservatives’ choice, much as McCain did in 2008.

Mark RozellProfessor of Public Policy, George Mason University

Difficult to say whether he will run because he has sent very mixed signals. I believe he himself is very conflicted, in large part because of his sensitivity about the family name.

The surname is a problem and an asset. The problem is the sense of absurdity of another Clinton-Bush race and that of a family dynasty, which is not exactly the right image for a democratic Republic. But his name also is an asset in that name recognition is a hugely important factor in campaigns, and the Bush family network can generate a lot of big-name Republican Party support and money. He will have some really big advantages going into the campaign. I consider these greater than the problems associated with the family name.

 

 

 

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