The plan back in January was to raise $100 million in just three months, terrifying would-be candidates like Rubio and Walker into sitting out the race and clearing the field for Jeb in the party’s center. It didn’t work out that way. They couldn’t hit the magic number by March, and Jeb’s early weakness — bad answers to easy questions, poor polling despite his supposed frontrunner status — enticed Rubio et al. to take a chance by challenging him. But don’t sweat the details. Bush’s numbers have been rising after his early rough patch and they ended up hitting the magic number after all — a cool $114 million raised through the first two quarters of the year, $11 million by Jeb’s campaign and an astounding $103 million by his Super PAC. To put that in perspective, Marco Rubio’s Super PAC raised just $16 million. Jeb’s haul is more than twice with the next best fundraiser, Ted Cruz, pulled in. According to one lefty analyst, adjusting for inflation over 15 years, Jeb’s raised right around what Al Gore and the DNC spent in the course of the entire 2000 campaign. The GOP establishment: Membership has its advantages.
Alternate headline: “Man buys nomination.”
It appears Bush raised even more than what was disclosed on Thursday. That mammoth figure still doesn’t include a third political committee in Bush’s orbit, the Right to Rise PAC Inc. When Bush first announced last December that he was “actively” exploring a presidential run, he said he was forming a PAC to help promote “leaders, ideas and policies.” Neither the super PAC nor campaign responded to an inquiry about the other PAC’s fundraising figures in 2015…
Bush formally declared his candidacy in Miami on June 15 and raised an average of $710,000 per day for the rest of the month. To put his $11.4 million haul in perspective, it would require Bush to have raised the maximum donation of $2,700 in primary dollars from more than 4,200 donors—in 16 days.
His super PAC, Right to Rise USA, run by one of Bush’s longtime confidantes, is not constrained by contribution limits. Bush had roughly 500 donors contribute more than $25,000, according to figures released by his super PAC Thursday. Of the $103 million raised, the super PAC said that it had more than $98 million cash on hand.
“I’ve taken dumps worth more than $114 million,” Trump will undoubtedly say in his next interview. As for Jeb, who’s the biggest loser from this fundraising bonanza? Gotta be Rubio, right? The whole field’s going to struggle trying to compete with the Bush ad barrage, but that hurts more in some places than others. It might not sink Walker in Iowa, just because he’s more regionally and ideologically in tune with the electorate there than Jeb is. It might not cinch New Hampshire for Bush either, as that state often prefers underdogs like McCain to juggernauts. The early state where the numbers will matter most, I assume, is Florida, where advertising time is expensive due to the sheer size of the population and the rates for airtime in major media markets like Miami. For everyone in the field save one man, that’s not a big deal: Bush is expected to win Florida anyway so there’s no great pressure on Walker or Rand Paul to pour in millions there in hopes of a longshot upset. The one guy who must compete, though, is Rubio; unless he pulls off a win in one of the early states, losing his home state to Bush will probably sink him. Even if he does win another state, losing Florida badly to Bush might sink him anyway. And now, with this kind of financial advantage for Jeb, he’s badly outgunned. Maybe the next time Scott Walker jokes about having Rubio as his VP, Rubio should take the deal.
Personally, the only thing that could make me more excited about nominating another Bush is knowing that the nomination was purchased for him by rich amnesty shills with bottomless pockets, so here’s to the highest conservative turnout evah in November 2016.
Update: Did I speak too soon about Rubio? Maybe he’s not as badly outgunned as we thought.