Despite having been the presumed frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination for years, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush continues to fall behind in the GOP primary race. A Dec. 4 CNN/ORC poll shows Bush with four percent support among Republican voters, with business mogul Donald Trump continuing to lead the field with 36 percent.
Political pundits have been trying to diagnose Bush’s plummeting popularity among GOP voters. He entered the race with heavy establishment support and has been the most heavily funded candidate, his Super PACs having already spent nearly $30 million in campaign ads, CNN reports.
A key factor is immigration. The CNN/ORC poll shows that 53 percent of self-identifying Republican voters agree with Trump’s proposal to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
Bush began his campaign touting his appeal with Latino voters, a demographic that GOP analysts have declared crucial to winning a general election. In early 2015, he would gush about his Mexican-born wife, Columba, and even speak Spanish during speeches. As Trump’s anti-immigration stance has grown in popularity, Bush has become more reluctant to advertise his Latino appeal, disqualifying one of the defining platforms of his candidacy.
Throughout the GOP primary, Bush has been Trump’s main target, the business mogul tagging him as “low energy.” Adding insult to injury, the Bush campaign strongly suspects that Trump has all but copied their plans for taxes and reforming Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“It’s pretty clear that Trump has been trying to look over Jeb’s shoulder in class to cheat on the test,” Bush communication director Tim Miller told the National Review.
Despite his plummeting popularity among GOP voters, Bush has put on a brave face, his campaign referencing the shaky campaign start of Arizona Sen. John McCain during the 2008 Republican primary.
“Everybody will have their ups and downs,” Bush advisor Al Cardenas told The New York Times. “Our hope is the governor has gotten pounded as hard as anybody has possibly gotten pounded… it worked for McCain in 2008, and I think the governor has the resources and talent to make it work for him.”