I came back to more miserable polling for the former inevitables:
The new [YouGov/CBS] poll finds Sen. Sanders with 52% support among Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, while former Secretary of State Clinton, long considered the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination, receives 30%....Meanwhile, Jeb Bush is in eighth place in Iowa, with a wretched 3% of the vote; at the top, it's Donald Trump 29%, Ben Carson 25%. In New Hampshire it's Trump 40%, Carson 12%, with Bush in fifth place at 6%. It's Trump 36%, Carson 21% in South Carolina, with Bush tied for fourth at 5%.
Possibly more worrying for the Clinton campaign is her performance in Iowa, where Sanders now leads by 10 points, with 43% to Clinton’s 33%....
Clinton remains firmly in the lead [in South Carolina] with 46% support.
I'll state the obvious: Jeb Bush will not be the Republican presidential nominee. It's over for him. He's now doing worse in states where voters are paying the most attention -- his numbers are slightly better in national polls than they are in early states, which means that, the more voters get to know him, the less they like him.
At this point, voters seem to be rejecting Bush because voters are rejecting Bush. What I mean is that these voters seem to sense that their fellow Republicans don't like Jeb, so a loathing of Jeb becomes an automatic response for Republicans. If you're a GOP voter, "Jeb sucks" is what you now believe if you want to be a member in good standing of your peer group. It's the comfort zone in your affinity group. It's the default.
Something similar is happening with Hillary Clinton, at least among white Democratic and independent voters. I think a lot of white Democrats are genuinely excited by Sanders, but the sense that Clinton is deceitful and, well, just plain tiresome is so widespread (and so endlessly repeated in the media) that it's being picked up by people who've rallied to the Clintons in the past, in some cases literally for decades. The safe default opinion of Clinton is that she's unappealing, so a lot of white moderate and liberal voters have just come around to that opinion. She still might win the nomination, but she's struggling to reverse that perception of her.
Over the weekend, Yastreblyansky wrote this:
That's my biggest fear about a Bernie Sanders candidacy ... not that the public would reject Sanders's program, which is hardly radical ... or even that the media would make him sound like the second coming of Eugene V. Debs, which they certainly would, but especially that the Hedge-Fund Democrats, the people who fund candidates like Andrew Cuomo and Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein and Ron Wyden ... will jump off the train if Sanders is nominated and attempt to push some kind of No Labels campaign for some unspeakable candidate like Harold Ford to guarantee the election of JEB! (the media attempt to destroy Sanders being just one part of this large corporate effort).Interesting scenario: Run a corporatist phony Dem third-party to try to split the Democratic vote and ensure the defeat of Sanders? Run a black phony Dem on the assumption that non-white support for Sanders is soft (although it's hard to imagine Harold Ford having much black support either)?
Yeah, maybe. Or would the Dem-leaning fat cats just ply Jeb with so much money that they assume he'd be sure to win (probably correctly, given how much campaign-financing sleaziness Sanders will continue to renounce on principle)?
But it doesn't matter, because Jeb isn't going to be the nominee. In fact, the GOP nominee is probably going to be somebody who would have been deemed unelectable just a few months ago. The politician doing best in the early states in that YouGov poll is Ted Cruz, who's in third in Iowa and South Carolina (although in New Hampshire he's in seventh).
I think the fat cats will still assume they can beat Sanders with the raw power of cash if it's Carson, Cruz, or Trump. But would they actually want Trump to win, assuming he's still serious about going after the carried interest deduction?
They might just conclude that on balance he'll give them a sweet tax deal, or that Republicans and corporatist Dems will bottle up any such change in Congress. But maybe they'll actually try to run an Establishment figure on a third-party line, in the hope that a gray eminence can beat two guys they hope can be portrayed as wild-haired wild men.
I'm surprised I'm not already reading about an Establishment effort to secure third-party ballot lines, just in case.