Jebbie Needs to Start Spending His Money

Recalling the post from last week (which led to a fairly extensive Twitter discussion with Nate Cohn and others) about what you can and cannot legitimately infer from early presidential polls, let’s take a quick look at the new Quinnipiac survey of Iowa, which is getting some attention today from horse-race enthusiasts.

What do the internals say about Jeb Bush’s basic standing among Iowa Republicans? They really don’t much like him, though not as much as they don’t like Chris Christie. Jebbie’s favorable/unfavorable ratio among likely caucus-goers is at 39/45 (down from 41/40 in February). Christie’s is at 32/56. The only other underwater proto-candidate is Lindsey Graham, at 15/37. Ben Carson’s at 53/9; Ted Cruz: 59/19; Carly Fiorina: 26/8; Mike Huckabee: 64/27; Bobby Jindal: 45/9; John Kasich: 20/8; Rand Paul: 59/23; Rick Perry: 51/30; Marco Rubio: 69/9; Rich Santorum: 56/28; Scott Walker: 59/11.

As compared with QPac’s February poll, Bush has now passed Christie as the guy most named as someone likely caucus-goers definitely will not vote for, at 25%. 45% say Bush’s positions are “not conservative enough,” more than for any candidate other than Christie (52%).

That, not “Bush fatigue,” seems to be the problem (at least among Republicans–I’m guessing revulsion at his last name is a big factor in general election trial heats, which in turn affects his electability street cred among Republicans, but none of that is measured here). W.’s favorability ratio is a robust 81/16, and Poppy’s is 80/13.

Now what a lot of people are going to be writing about are the horse-race numbers, which show Bush losing half his support since February, and dropping into seventh place with 5% of likely Caucus-goers. Walker remains first at 21%, followed by Paul and Rubio at 13%, Cruz at 12%, Huck at 11%, and Carson at 7%. Cruz and Rubio have made up the most ground since February.

I’ll go with the political scientists here and say the horse-race numbers are so volatile and variable that you can pretty much ignore them at this point. But the internals should be troubling for Jebbie. Yes, the Caucuses are still a long way off, but the first “scorable” event, the Iowa GOP Straw poll in Boone, is 94 days away. Unless Jebbie’s already decided to skip that hoedown, he needs to improve his popularity in Iowa, show up a lot more, and start building a real campaign. Maybe instead of shocking the world with his fundraising totals during the Invisible Primary, he and/or his minions need to be spending some money in Iowa right now.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.