Tuesday, February 24, 2015


There's a lot to digest in the new Public Policy Polling national survey of Republican voters -- the huge lead for Scott Walker, the strength of Ben Carson, the weakness of Christie, Paul, and Rubio...
PPP's newest national Republican poll finds a clear leader in the race for the first time: Scott Walker is at 25% to 18% for Ben Carson, 17% for Jeb Bush, and 10% for Mike Huckabee. Rounding out the field of contenders are Chris Christie and Ted Cruz at 5%, Rand Paul at 4%, and Rick Perry and Marco Rubio at 3%.
Also notable are the numbers on global warming (66% of Republicans surveyed don't believe in it), evolution (belief/disbelief is 49%/37%,) and making Christianity the state religion (57% are in favor), not to mention Benjamin Netanyahu's 57% favorability rating (higher than that of any potential 2016 presidential candidate)

But I want to point out something else. Jeb Bush is mired in third place, a bit behind Carson and far behind Walker, and that may not be for the reason you think:
The struggles Bush is having with some Republican primary voters don't seem to have anything to do with his brother's legacy. George W. Bush has a 74/21 favorability rating with them, and the closest any of this year's candidates get to that is a 56% favorability for Mike Huckabee.
George W. Bush has a 74%/21% approval/disapproval ratio among the Republican survey respondents? Really? But wait -- haven't pundits told us that the rise of the Tea Party was as much a reaction to Bush as to Obama?

That's what National Journal's Michael Hirsh wrote in 2013:
... the rebellion against Big Government that the tea party has come to embody really began more than a decade ago with a growing sense of betrayal among conservatives over Bush's runaway-spending habits. Conservatives were angered by his refusal to veto any spending bills, especially in his first term, not to mention what happened during the nearly six years of GOP control of the Senate and House from 2000 to '06, when federal spending grew to a record $2.7 trillion, more than doubling the increase during Bill Clinton's two terms. The final outrage that lit the brushfires of tea-party fervor was Bush's sponsorship of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program in the fall of 2008, just before he left office, in order to bail out Wall Street.

It is arguably true that President Obama's decision in 2009 to pile a giant stimulus and a new national health-care program on top of TARP transformed those brushfires into a true national conflagration -- and a movement. But in reality Obama's actions were more like a tipping point, many conservatives say. "This social and political phenomenon of the tea partiers was burning all through the Bush years," Reid Buckley, brother of the late William F. Buckley and the self-appointed keeper of his flame as a father of modern conservatism, said in a 2010 interview. "It's a long-term slow boil that has disaffected most people who call themselves conservatives. There's nothing I have against President Obama that in this I wouldn't charge Bush with."
And in a 2014 appearance on Bill Maher's show, Bill Kristol rejected Maher's contention that the Tea Party arose because Obama is a black president:
“I totally believe it,” Maher replied. “It happened a month after he took office. Suddenly white people were very upset about debt even though Bush had raised the debt way more than Obama had.”

Kristol responded to that point by noting that the Tea Party movement was also “upset at Bush for raising the debt.”

“There [were] conservatives upset at Bush for raising the debt, and Tea Partiers rebelled against the Republican establishment as well as the Democratic establishment,” Kristol said.

Well, in this poll, not only is George W. Bush popular with a broad spectrum of Republicans, he's slightly more popular with teabaggers:

Deficits? Spending? When Bush was in charge, 'baggers didn't care. And they resent him for it now. Spending and deficits are only bad when a Democrat is in the White House.


Four Bs said...

If you created a Venn diagram of people who supported George W. Bush until the bitter end and people who began protesting in tricornered hats against everything Obama and the Democrats stood for starting in early 2009, the diagram would look like a single ball.

mlbxxxxxx said...

Mark my words, Jeb is the real frontrunner. This is noise in the machine. This is Walker getting press. We are so far out from the opening bell, these polls are less than meaningful. But I do think it is clear, as I've always felt, that W's legacy will not hurt Jeb in the primaries. Righties always have hagiographic memories of their past leaders -- even ones like GHW Bush who they branded a liar for raising taxes. When W came up, I heard talk of how maybe GHW Bush hadn't been so bad after all and maybe had gotten a bad rap, blah, blah, blah. If Jeb finds his footing (and he hasn't yet -- clock is ticking), W's legacy will be a plus -- in the primaries.

Unless the baggers split the vote so badly, Jeb wins with a plurality or Jeb finds a way to co-opt and undercut his competition, I think we may well see a titanic battle between the GOP establishment and some tbagger -- probably Walker -- backed by the Koch cash. But I think it's Jeb's to lose.

The good news is, it's not going to be dull.

Curt Purcell said...

People who think Walker's been "tested" by his elections are in for a rude awakening when the meat-grinder of a GOP primary process kicks in for real, to say nothing of a general election if he does get the nomination. The only question is how many "oops!" moments he'll have before the Koch money dries up and goes somewhere else.

Ten Bears said...

Jebbie might lead, but Mitt is the nominee. Mitt v Hillary.

We're fucking doomed.

Steve M. said...

W isn't hurting Jeb, but Jeb is hurting Jeb -- Common Core, immigration, you know the drill. Because of his ability to hoover up money, I guess it's his nomination to lose, but for now, at least, he's losing it.

Victor said...

It always boils down to the source:

Robert said...

Always remember to beat the Tea Party over the head with their own words. When they bring-up ISIL with me, I just remind them that we're broke and the deficit is the worst thing to happen to this country ever. But if thy will just write a check for a half-trillion dollars, we can discuss war with ISIL.