“Money does not buy elections,” Washburne added. “Look at Hillary and Obama back going into ’08 — she had all the money and he had none.”

Despite Bush’s robust lead, party strategists and fundraisers agree that there is still plenty of room for his rivals to maneuver because of the changed nature of this year’s money primary. Super PACs that can raise unlimited donations have already been embraced by the expected candidates, allowing them to scoop up massive contributions before their campaigns officially launch. And the pool of potential givers has greatly expanded in the last several years, as the freewheeling era of big-money groups has attracted a new class of political donors.

“There’s a lot more room in this environment,” said Richard Hohlt, a Republican lobbyist in Washington who is helping raise money for Bush. “I am shocked, as a person who has done this since the Nixon campaign, how there are so many mega-donors who are willing to write significant checks. The point is, candidates can stay alive a lot longer.”