The invisible primary
One reason that George W. Bush didn’t have much competition — and it looks like Clinton won’t — is that he locked up support from the party elite. The candidate who wins the competition for establishment endorsements and support usually wins the nomination. By early 1999, Bush had picked up endorsements from half his fellow Republican governors. In the U.S. Senate, where Clinton formerly represented New York, she has already scored the endorsements of 27 of the 46 Democratic senators (59 percent). Jeb Bush has received considerably fewer endorsements.
An early polling lead
Although early polling in a presidential election cycle isn’t very predictive, Bush at this point in the 2000 season enjoyed big leads — as Clinton does now. Bush led his nearest competitor, Elizabeth Dole, 53 percent to 18 percent in an early March 1999 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Clinton is up 60 percent to 15 percent over Biden in the most recent CNN poll. Jeb Bush, on the other hand, is trailing Mike Huckabee in that CNN survey.
Like George W. Bush’s did in 1999, Clinton’s ideological profile appeals to most of her party. In a March 1999 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 83 percent of Republicans said Bush’s views on the issues were “about right” (rather than “too conservative” or “too liberal”). In a Fox News survey last year, 78 percent of Democrats said Clinton’s stances were about right. Fox found that only 51 percent of Republicans said the same about Jeb Bush.