At first glance, the prospect of a Jeb Bush presidential candidacy might appear far-fetched, but a number of historical factors suggest it is a plausibility.
According to Real Clear Politics, Jeb Bush is the only candidate who does not trail Hillary Clinton in a prospective race in Iowa, one state where data is available. Bush's brother, the forty-third president, sees him running and poll numbers show him gradually improving against the GOP field and against Democrats. As IVN has documented before, it takes only a little polling data to launch a potentially big-name candidate to the forefront.
Outside of Bush, most presidential speculation has centered on relative newcomers: Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Paul Ryan. To some extent or another, all names represent some break with the Republican past and some degree of political independence. Another characteristic they all share is that they are all legislators.However, Americans do not typically elect presidents directly from the Legislative Branch.
Until Barack Obama in 2008, John F. Kennedy was the last legislator elected to the presidency. Governors, or those in an executive position, have typically been elected, a factor that may benefit Bush, a former two-time governor of Florida. With the most recent legislator-turned-president sinking in approval ratings, the American electorate may be cautious about electing another lawmaker to the Oval Office.
The potential slate of Republican governors who may seek the nomination include Scott Walker, Chris Christie, and John Kasich. Walker is in the midst of a close re-election and defeat would essentially end any chance of a 2016 campaign. Christie and Kasich both have contentious relationships with the party's conservative base. Additionally, the former is hobbled by the so-called bridge scandal and the latter by unpopularity compared to other Republicans even within his home state.
Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have some assets for respective presidential runs, but history does not support the contention that either will win the nomination. They are both relatively new to the national scene and can be expected to make some mistakes that may handicap their campaigns. Representing the party's right-wing, they will also be battling for the same voters along with several other potential candidates.
In contrast, Bush, touting his experience as an executive, will likely have far fewer rivals with similar pasts.
The GOP, despite being a party of conservatives, has only nominated conservatives or outsiders twice in modern U.S. history, in 1964 and 1980. The party more often than not chooses moderates in the molds of Nelson Rockefeller, George H. W. Bush, and Mitt Romney. Insurgent campaigns like those of Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, and Mike Huckabee registered some disparate successes, but fell well short of their goal.
Two of 2016's potential players to watch, Rand Paul and Cruz, have two potential strikes against them in a nominating battle: they are coming from outside the GOP establishment and they are not executives. Jeb Bush could emerge as one of, and possibly the only, viable governor/executive, potentially making his candidacy a reality.
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