Marco Rubio had been gaining on Jeb Bush in the polls last month, but now the momentum has switched and Bush appears to have regained his front-runner status and is surging ahead of Rubio in one national poll, the Tampa Bay Times reports. In the newest CNN/ORC poll released this past week, Jeb Bush leads nationally among Republican candidates for president with 19 percent, a substantial improvement over his 13 percent in June in the same poll. Rubio has fallen from 14 percent to just six percent in the same time period in the same poll.
While Bush has gained on Rubio in the CNN/ORC poll, the Miami Herald reports that both candidates are still behind Hillary Clinton in possible general election match-ups measured in that poll. Hillary Clinton leads Bush 54 percent to 41 percent, while having a 59 to 34 percent lead over Donald Trump and a 56 to 39 percent lead over Marco Rubio.
Business Insider reports that Bush might well be once again the front-runner for the GOP nomination for president in 2016, according to a statement by CNN's polling director, Jennifer Agiesta.
"The findings suggest Bush is making progress toward being seen as the frontrunner in a field that has long lacked a clear leader," wrote Agiesta, "He holds a significant lead over the second-place candidate Trump, is seen as the candidate who could best handle illegal immigration and social issues, and runs about even with Trump and well ahead of the other candidates when Republicans are asked which candidate can best handle the economy."
A look at the latest polling data and averages at Real Clear Politics (RCP) shows that Jeb Bush has a very plausible path to winning the GOP nomination in 2016. Assuming some degree of accuracy of this polling data, here is how the early caucus and primary votes might well go, and how they could lead to a Jeb Bush nomination for president in 2016.
Bush is currently tied for second place, with Dr. Ben Carson, in the RCP average in Iowa with 9.3 percent, and Scott Walker leads with 17.5 percent in the average but he is believed to be slipping in the polls in Iowa. A renewed and serious effort by Jeb Bush in Iowa could still find him coming in second to Walker but perhaps a stronger-than-expected second that would lead to pundits saying maybe the Bush campaign is gaining strength.
The momentum of finishing better than expected in Iowa should have Jeb Bush going into New Hampshire gaining in the polls there, where Bush now leads with 15.2 percent in the RCP average while Walker and Trump come in second and third place respectively in New Hampshire. Poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to cause several of the under-performing candidates to suspend their candidacies.
After the strong performance in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush goes to South Carolina gaining in the polls, where he now leads 13.7 percent to 13.3 percent over Scott Walker in the RCP average. This will be very much like 2000 in South Carolina, where John McCain needed to beat George W. Bush in the state to stay in the race, and winning the state gave Bush a clear advantage over McCain. Same in South Carolina in 2016, except the candidates are Jeb Bush and Scott Walker. Same result, the candidate with the last name of Bush wins.
Florida will vote next, where Jeb Bush even now leads with 24.3 percent to Rubio at 18.7 and Walker at 11.7 in the RCP average of polls. Bush should win that more easily, after winning New Hampshire and South Carolina, and beyond that should easily win most of the remaining primary and caucus votes on his way to winning the GOP nomination in 2016. This will be very much like winning GOP campaigns of the past, including Mitt Romney in 2012, John McCain in 2008, George W. Bush in 2000, George H.W. Bush in 1988, and Ronald Reagan in 1980.
The current polling data shows Jeb Bush could very well follow the patterns of many of those winning candidates who become GOP nominees and win the GOP nomination for 2016. For that not to happen, one of the other candidates will have to become the clear choice of those who do not want Jeb Bush as the nominee, and win some early states to become the sole challenger to Bush early in the process. Either Marco Rubio or Scott Walker would have to defeat Bush in New Hampshire and South Carolina for that scenario to be possible, and for one of them to defeat Jeb Bush in 2016. The polling data today suggests that is not likely, but there is plenty of time for all of this to change.
[Photo of Jeb Bush by Kayak Szymczak for Getty Images.]