Polls: Jeb Bush seen as representing "the past" more than Hillary Clinton

Interesting and important to Jeb’s candidacy. One of the arguments for biting the bullet on Bush 3.0 is that Hillary is running as Clinton 2.0, and therefore the dynasty factor for each kinda sorta cancels the other’s out. That’s a stupid way to look at it — why not try to capitalize on anti-dynastic sentiment against Hillary by nominating a fresh face ourselves? — but it may also be incorrect on the merits. Not all dynasties are created equal, after all. Love him or hate him, Clinton left office with healthy job approval numbers. Dubya … did not. How much does that matter to Hillary’s and Jeb’s candidacies? Maybe a lot, per CNN:


Hillary’s at 50/48 on the future/past question. Jeb? 33/64, same as our sitting septuagenarian VP, who was in the Senate before Bush was old enough to drink. Not all of that is Dubya’s or even Jeb’s fault. Democrats pitch themselves as striving for a progressive tomorrow while Republicans pitch themselves as restoring the country to what it once was, so there’s an implicit Democrats/future Republicans/past perception among voters, I think. Most Democratic attacks on the GOP play off of that by painting the party as hopelessly retrograde, with a vote for Republicans representing a vote for “regression.” That’s why the future/past numbers even for an unknown GOPer like Scott Walker here are mildly negative. But yeah, most of Jeb’s problems are his and Dubya’s — and Bush 41’s — fault. For one thing, the Bushes and Clintons aren’t dynastic to equal extents: The latter are aiming for a second turn in the White House (not unheard of in American history, dating back to the Adamses) while the former are aiming for an implausible third. Also, unlike Jeb, Hillary was a major player in politics until very recently. She ran for president in 2008 then served as Secretary of State for four full years. Jeb’s been out of public office for eight years; his political career is likely a complete blank to many millions of people. Imagine being a low-information voter and only recently discovering that there is, in fact, another Bush brother, that he hasn’t held office this decade, and that he wants to be president too. Are they just pulling Bush the elder’s sons off of a shelf now, dusting them off, and handing them $100 million to run for the White House?

But that’s not the only poll showing a gap between Clinton and Bush on dynasty issues. Check out these numbers from Quinnipiac, which polled three very different swing states in Colorado, Iowa, and Virginia and found some not-so-different numbers for each candidate.


Voters in all three states say it makes them less likely on balance to support Bush and Clinton because a close relative served as president before them, but in Hillary’s case that spread is consistently less than 10 points. In Bush’s case, it’s consistently more than 25. You can dismiss that if you like by saying “well, it’s only the hardcore Democrats whom Jeb would never win anyway who say they’re less likely to vote for him,” but there are plenty of hardcore Republicans who’d never vote for Hillary either. Why the imbalance in the numbers?

One more data point for you, this from WaPo. Oof:

“Meh,” you say, “that doesn’t mean anything. There’s a fairly small group of seasoned White House advisors in both parties. Any Republican president will necessarily have lots of Bush retreads while any Democratic one will have Clinton and Obama veterans.” Okay, but not every Republican nominee is himself named Bush and will enter the general election with voters worried about precisely this sort of overlap. Democrats will circulate graphics like this endlessly to “prove” just how much like his brother Jeb is. And even if Jeb (wisely) downplays the holdovers from Dubya’s administration and plays up the respected elder statesmen like Baker and Shultz from Bush 41’s, he still has a “candidate of the past” problem. Baker is 84 years old. Shultz is 94. Only the GOP would think to counter an aging candidate with dynasty problems like Hillary with yet another Bush scion being advised by guys who, in some cases, haven’t been in government since the 80s.

But I guess we’re going to do it because, after all, Jeb makes the donor class happy (especially on amnesty!) and ultimately it’s their party, not yours. They came up aces with President Romney, didn’t they? Just remember that the headlight on this particular train was very clearly visible in the distance, even more than 18 months out from the election, when GOP consultants are shocked to find in November 2016 that Americans didn’t really want another Bush after all.

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