Romney's path to GOP nomination eludes Jeb

In 2012, the insurgent candidates needed Romney, the establishment frontrunner, so they could play the foil: They were the “anyone but Romney” candidates.

In 2016, the insurgents are not Bush alternatives, said Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray. Worse, they’re indifferent to him.

“If there’s a sense that you’re the person that they need to pit someone against, that suggests you have a strong base of underlying support,” Murray said. 

“But Donald Trump and Ben Carson aren’t ‘anyone but Bush’ candidates. They’re tapping into an entirely different mindset in which Bush is irrelevant. In 2012, it was always Romney and someone who is not Romney. We’re not having that conversation about Jeb, and that speaks volumes.” 

And Romney always had an ace-in-the-hole.

“Romney had New Hampshire in his back pocket the whole time,” Robinson said.