Blame Jeb Bush for the chaos in the Republican primary

The next-in-line tale is correct, but the moral of the story isn’t what people think. The Bushes, Dole, Romney and McCain didn’t defeat their primary opponents because voters simply accepted their right to the nomination. (Voters aren’t that compliant.) They won because they took advantage of their solid starting positions to broaden their support.

Each more or less had the establishment or moderate wing of the party locked down early. That freed them to spend months or even years wooing the conservative base. If you secure the moderate or establishment Republicans, you only need a relatively small slice of the true believers to get over the top (Barry Goldwater and Reagan had the opposite problem; they had the true believers sewn up, but had to work to persuade the moderates. The former failed, the latter succeeded.)…

Jeb Bush, for his part, went into the 2016 campaign with the establishment largely in his pocket. The big donors, his family’s political machine and veterans of his brother’s White House lined up. So far so good. But Bush never really bothered to cultivate the right. He even seemed to take it for granted. Once it became clear that the grass-roots were not going to rally to Bush, he started to hemorrhage support from voters and donors who wanted to back a winner. But by then it was too late to unify the establishment around someone else.