In late September, the Washington Post reported It’s make or break time for Jeb Bush:
Jeb Bush is entering a critical phase of his Republican presidential campaign, with top donors warning that the former Florida governor needs to demonstrate growth in the polls over the next month or face serious defections among supporters.
The warnings, expressed by numerous senior GOP fundraisers in recent days, come as Bush and an allied super PAC are in the early stages of an aggressive television ad campaign they say will help erase doubts about his viability.
But Bush continues to battle against a steady decline in the polls, sinking to fifth place at just 7 percent in a national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday and similarly languishing in the early-voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire.
J.E.B.! Bush has been spending money at an enormous burn rate trying to get some traction in the GOP primary. It has been all for naught. The Washington Post reports today, Jeb Bush’s 86% burn rate underscores fundraising struggles for the GOP establishment:
No more shock and awe, Jeb Bush has become just another guy in a crowded field of presidential aspirants. The former Florida governor spent 86 percent of the money he collected over the past three months, burning through $11.5 million of the $13.4 million that he raised. “He should have (raised) at least $25 million,” a major Republican fundraiser told Matea Gold and Philip Rucker.
Jeb’s third quarter report, filed hours before last night’s deadline, showed Bush with less cash on hand right now than Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson. The struggling campaign has slashed staff salaries and tried to cut costs in other ways, including requiring the use of cheaper hotels.
Jeb’s haul is still a lot of money, for sure, but it is a staggeringly underwhelming figure for the son and brother of former presidents, both of whom hosted multiple events to shake the family network’s money tree. “Some donors are really nervous,” another top Bush fundraiser told Matea and Phil.
Despite tons of pro-Bush ads airing in the early states, and Jeb’s aggressive schedule, his numbers are lingering and languishing in the single digits. The campaign chalks up its high burn rate to building an infrastructure that can win over the long haul, but insiders fear Jeb is overly dependent on his super PAC. The big open question is whether establishment Republicans are nervous enough to start thinking about throwing their weight behind another candidate or whether they will stick with Jeb in the long-term out of loyalty to the Bush dynasty.
The Hill adds, Bush fundraising slows as his polls drop:
The slowing rate of Bush fundraising came as the candidate’s poll numbers dropped significantly over the same period.
On Jul. 1, the first day of the recent fundraising quarter, Bush was the top polling Republican nationally, scoring 15 percent in the RealClearPolitics average. But on the final day of the quarter Bush had drifted to fifth place, at 9 percent and well behind front-runners Donald Trump and Carson.
Bush’s fundraising lags behind Democratic front-runner and establishment favorite Hillary Clinton, who raised $28 million in the recent quarter and has $32 million cash on hand.
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The slower Bush cash flow is not due to a lack of effort.
During the three months between Jul. 1 and Sept. 30, the Bush campaign held at least 58 fundraising events — a rate of nearly two out of every three days — according to leaked invitations and news reports.
Bush has leaned on famous relatives and the formidable family donor network built over the past 30 years.
During the recent fundraising quarter, president George W. Bush hosted at least two fundraisers on his brother’s behalf. Bush’s two sons, Jeb Jr. and George P., have also been raising money on their father’s behalf, and Bush’s parents, former president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara, co-hosted a retreat for major donors and bundlers in July at the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
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The Bush camp flagged recently that it was cutting back on expenses, and his supporters are hoping his team will heed the examples of failed candidates, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who proved that multimillion-dollar super-PACs are no substitute for well-funded campaigns.
There will be no restoration of the “Bush Dynasty.” Watch for donors and campaign staffers to start fleeing to other campaigns in coming weeks. The J.E.B.! Bush campaign has entered the death watch phase.