Inside Jeb Bush’s Relentless Downhill Slide
Policy + Politics

Inside Jeb Bush’s Relentless Downhill Slide

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Things are looking increasingly grim for the candidacy of Republican presidential aspirant Jeb Bush, according to new data from the Monmouth University Poll released Tuesday morning. The former Florida governor, who entered the race with a massive financial advantage thanks to his Right to Rise Super PAC, has seen his standing slip in every nationwide Monmouth Poll taken since July.

Bush has lost two-thirds of his support since July, when he led the Republican field with 15 percent of the vote. His support dropped to 12 percent in August, 8 percent in September and has now hit 5 percent in the October poll.

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The bad news doesn’t end with his loss of prospective voters, either. Bush has suffered the most dramatic decline in his public favorability rating of any GOP candidate, Monmouth found. He began with 40 percent approval in June, the month when he announced his candidacy. That jumped to 50 percent in July and peaked at 52 percent in August. But since then, Jeb’s numbers have tumbled to 41 percent in September and then to 37 percent in the most recent poll.

That gives Bush the lowest favorability ranking of any of the top tier Republicans in the race. He also has the highest unfavorable rating, with 44 percent of voters holding a negative view of him.

“The money train may be chugging along for the Bush campaign, but the polling train has been steadily losing steam,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The Monmouth poll is no outlier when it comes to the decline of the Jeb! brand, either. The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, has tracked a similar downward trajectory for the former Florida governor. In June, Bush was at 22 percent, only to tumble to 14 percent in July. In September he was down to 7 percent, though he did tick up one point, to 8 percent in October.

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According to Murray, some of the dissatisfaction with Bush may be due not to the candidate himself as much as general anger at the party establishment. And with a father and a brother who have both served as Republican presidents, Bush is for better or worse a symbol of the GOP establishment.

The poll found that across the ideological spectrum in the GOP electorate, from the moderates to the Tea Party, a majority of voters feel that the national party does a “bad job” of representing their concerns in Washington.

That has spilled over into the House of Representatives, which is trying to elect a new Speaker who will be able to unite the party’s warring right wing and the establishment.

“The turmoil over selecting a new Speaker of the House reflects an unhappy party base. Because this disaffection reaches every corner of the GOP electorate, there is no clear indication about which route the party should take to right this ship,” said Murray.

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The general dissatisfaction with GOP leadership, he speculates, could be the reason why the two current frontrunners -- Donald Trump (28 percent in the Monmouth poll) and Ben Carson (18 percent) -- have zero experience in elective office between them. Throw in the 6 percent of the GOP electorate that favors former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and more than half of GOP voters are backing a candidate that has never held office before.

The Monmouth poll of Republican voters was based on a subsample of a larger national poll. The margin of error related to Republican voters’ answers is 5.3 percent.