Is this the beginning of the end for Jeb Bush?

One-time favourite is sliding badly on the betting markets

From the moment Jeb Bush announced his Presidential bid, boosted by a stack of mega-donors, the former Florida Governor became red-hot favourite on the betting markets to be the Republican candidate. However as in the last two elections, the early money for this market increasingly looks like proving a poor guide.

Having been overtaken by Marco Rubio in recent weeks, Bush’s odds are now in freefall. At his peak, he was rated 43% likely to the candidate, 28% to become President. When I laid out seven reasons  why he won’t be the candidate, they had slipped to 35% and 14%. Tonight, those ratings are down to 20% and 8%, and I suspect will fall further.

The simple explanation is that, despite spending a fortune on advertising in the key early primary states, Bush has totally failed to make headway. Instead, the momentum remains with Rubio, Ben Carson and Donald Trump.

Today’s news cycle is particularly grim. Of all the candidates, he was the one with no money worries whatsoever, yet it has emerged that Bush is cutting staff and salaries. while throwing the kitchen sink at the early states. He needs to, stuck around 5% in Iowa and 10% in pivotal New Hampshire.

Now, it must be re-iterated that these are still early days in a long race. Bush said on Fox News yesterday that he wouldn’t pull out and has the resources to stay in for the long haul. Raising money is going to be harder, though, with former protege Rubio particularly looking a better investment.

Jeb looks like the past, and would probably have been the candidate if running four years ago, relatively fresh off his term in Florida. He’s been out of front-line politics for a long time now though, and the torch may have been passed to the younger man, at least among Florida donors and perhaps the wider ‘mainstream’ wing of the party. The Bush/Rubio exchanges will be a highlight of next week’s CNBC debate.

Is there any hope of a comeback? History shows it can. At this stage eight years ago, for example, John McCain was all but out of the race, yet fought back to win the nomination on a shoestring. Nevertheless, I’m betting against it.


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