Poll: Jeb Bush now at 21 percent in New Hampshire, ahead of the field by eight points

A leftover from yesterday via Howie Carr and Gravis Marketing. We all knew the great sighing falling-in-line for Bush 8.0 would come eventually. We just didn’t know it would happen this soon.

Nah, I’m just kidding. This is an outlier. Isn’t it?

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Carly Fiorina ahead of Chris Christie and Ted Cruz in New Hampshire? C’mon, I … can totally believe that, actually, given the state’s fondness for outsiders and “mavericks.” In fact, for a supposed outlier, the only number in this poll that’s strikingly out of sync with other recent polls of New Hampshire is Jeb’s. He’s fully 10 points higher than he was in Bloomberg’s poll of the state last month. Maybe not coincidentally, the other noticeable gainer is Donald Trump, who was at five points two months ago in a WMUR poll, then at eight points in Bloomberg’s poll in May, and now at 12 points, good for fourth place right behind Scott Walker and Rand Paul. What Jeb and Trump have in common is brand-name recognition: It may be that some New Hampshire Republicans are finally just tuning into the race, are barely familiar with any of the candidates, and are seizing on the names they know when pollsters dial them up to ask who they’re supporting. That’s the only theory I can come up with (apart from the outlier theory) to explain how a guy like Bush, who’s run a dismal non-campaign for the past six months, might be seeing his support in New Hampshire grow regardless.

Speaking of which, riddle me this: What problem with Jeb’s campaign was yesterday’s shake-up at the top supposed to address? As far as I can tell, there’s no problem with the Bush 2016 effort writ large. They’re raising truckloads of cash, they’re touring the early states, they’re doing plenty of interviews, etc. The problem with Bush 2016 is Bush. How does a new campaign manager solve that? Or is this a case, as in sports, where you can’t fire the players when they underperform so you’re forced to fire the manager instead?

“I’m still for him,” says an adviser to Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, “but it hasn’t gone very well so far, and we’ve got to face that. It’s going to take some remedying.”…

“They [the donors] said that in January, Bush laid out a scenario of where he would be by now, and it has not remotely happened,” the operative recalled. “They said the plan was for Bush to use this period to emerge as frontrunner, and launch as decisive frontrunner with the model, interestingly enough, being George W. Bush in 1999. But that hasn’t happened, obviously, and I expect this bloodletting is to show that they are aware and trying to take steps to address.”…

“He hasn’t been able to break out from this notion that he’s the third Bush,” says the adviser. “And he’s got to.”

I’m thinking he’s not going to break out from the notion that he’s the third Bush for the simple reason that he is, in fact, the third Bush. I’m more intrigued, though, by that bit about Jeb supposedly reassuring donors in January that he’d be a “decisive frontrunner” by the summer. Can that be true? Even with all of his fundraising, he had to realize that this field is loaded, far more than so what Dubya faced in 1999, and that he’d bear a heavy burden in Bush fatigue that his brother never had to deal with. If Jeb is so deluded about the state of the GOP electorate that he thought he’d go wire to wire to win this race then his problems are bigger than any personnel change can solve. Baffling.

Exit question: Never mind Jeb. Should Scott Walker be worried about the trendline in New Hampshire? Yeah, yeah — “it’s early!” — but even so, New Hampshirites appear to have dimmed a bit on Walker as they’ve gotten to know him better. Several polls between February and April had him at 20 percent or higher in the state, including 23 percent from Gravis Marketing on February 2. Gravis’s next poll, in March, had him slipping to 19 percent. The one after that, in April, saw him slip again to 16 percent. Now he’s at 13 percent. Granted, some erosion was expected as top-tier rivals like Rubio entered the race, but if you look at the trends in RCP’s table, you’ll see that Rubio is only a few points higher in NH than he was in February. Meanwhile, another Walker rival, Chris Christie, has slipped several points, which you would expect to benefit Walker. Looks to me like it’s Trump, of all people, who might be eating into some of Walker’s support. Maybe New Hampshirites were looking for a “not Bush” outsider candidate when they first warmed to Walker, then gradually drifted towards the guy from “The Apprentice” instead once he made noise about getting in. What a glorious outcome it’ll be for conservatives if Jeb ends up edging past the guy who crushed PEUs in Wisconsin because Trump was strong enough to play spoiler.

Update: Huh?