Jeb Bush has a tea party problem.
Mark Meckler, an influential voice of the tea party movement, told msnbc on Wednesday that the all-but-likely Republican presidential candidate is rarely mentioned in his circle – and when he is, “that’s when the vitriol flows.”
“If you were to go to a tea party meeting or any real grassroots meeting on the right now and say ‘let’s talk about the presidential candidates’, his name won’t come up because he’s loathed,” said Meckler, who co-founded the Tea Party Patriots political organization in 2009 before becoming president of Citizens for Self Governance.
Instead, names that do come up include Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky and even third-tiered potential candidates like retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. While the mention of Rubio, Cruz and Paul are no surprise (they were elected with support from the tea party), what is interesting is that Bush, according to Meckler, is barely discussed, even though his record as governor is considered significantly more conservative in contrast to his national reputation today.
Related: Jeb loses ground in Florida
There are a slew of examples of Bush’s conservative gubernatorial record, as msnbc previously noted, including his ending of affirmative action by executive order, green-lighting the controversial “Stand Your Ground” gun law, slashing billions in taxes, opposing embryonic stem cell research, and saying he’s a “skeptic” on climate change.
Still, Meckler said Bush’s record rarely comes up and that he is despised for a number of reasons, a primary one being his familial legacy. Another factor is his support for a set of statewide school standards called Common Core. “He’s not bending on that position at all. For most people, that’s a litmus test. He’s just done,” said Meckler.
According to a recent poll from Quinnipiac University of likely GOP caucus-goers in Iowa, just 3% of tea party-aligned voters (which accounted for about a third of the sample) said they would vote for Bush. Meanwhile, 38% of tea party-aligned voters said they would definitely not back him for the GOP nomination. Tea party support, of course, could be important in early voting states like Iowa and South Carolina.
When it comes to the 2016 Republican presidential nomination as a whole, Bush – who has not officially declared he’s running for the nation’s highest office – fares much better. According to Real Clear Politic’s average of polling data surrounding the GOP nomination, Bush is in first place with 16.8% support. Behind him are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with 16.2%. Cruz, Paul, Carson, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are all tied for fourth place with 8.7% support.