Monday, June 15, 2015
PRESIDENT JEB BUSH? (PUKE!)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will launch his presidential campaign Monday in Miami. Much will happen to change the shape of the race between now and November 2016. But given what we know now, I predict that Bush will become the 45th president of the United States. Here are five reasons why:
1. Bush is seeking to grow the Republican Party.
Rather than trying to expand his support among conservative voters, Bush is trying to make inroads with moderate, swing voters. For example, when I've heard Bush talk about his education reforms in Florida, he doesn't just give conservative talking points about expanding families' freedom to choose the school that's best for them. He explains how successful the reforms have been in making Florida's Hispanic, black and low-income students outscore students in other states.
Bush is a true Big Tent Republican. He generally doesn't attack other Republicans, and when he attacks Democrats, he generally avoids the outraged tone that other GOP candidates employ. This will be an attractive feature to the growing share of voters who are fed up with the politics of perpetual outrage. Conservative voters likely won't like his moderate approach to immigration or his support for Common Core. But Bush isn't flip-flopping on those issues; instead, he is working to convince conservatives of his positions while taking his message to moderate voters.
2. He's already in the lead.
Bush leads the RealClearPolitics polling average (although Scott Walker and Marco Rubio are very close behind). His drive to attract moderate voters will expand his base of support. Few others are competing for the same voters, leaving Bush nowhere to go but up.
After a shake-up in the management of his campaign even before it launches, many have suggested that Bush's campaign is faltering. I'm reminded of July 2007, when John McCain's campaign manager and chief strategist left. The entire campaign was downsized. In the end, McCain's shake-up was worse than Bush's, and things turned out okay for McCain. Surely Bush can do the same, if not better.
3. Other Republicans are shifting to the right.
At one point in the last few months I thought Walker had the best chance of winning the nomination. Then he showed what kind of voters he was trying to attract by taking ultra-conservative positions on national policy issues. Very conservative voters were already impressed by Walker's record of standing up to intense union opposition, and many would have supported him anyway. By shifting to the right on immigration, foreign policy and social issues, Walker has made himself look more conservative and less attractive to voters who weren't already inclined to support him.
With other Republicans moving rightward, there's a vacuum in the middle of the electorate — one that Bush is well-placed to fill.