The super PAC supporting Jeb Bush is racing through its massive war chest much faster than money is coming in, spending close to $50 million in a record blitz that has so far failed to lift the former Florida governor's sputtering presidential candidacy. The group, Right to Rise, has already gone through nearly half of the $103 million it brought in during the first half of the year, records show. It raised only about $13 million in the five months that followed, according to a person familiar with the figure.
Yesterday, I was all set to write an item on the Tax Policy Center's analysis of Jeb Bush's tax plan, when something occurred to me: maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe I need to get out of the habit of thinking that Bush is a real contender for the Republican presidential nomination, and that detailed scrutiny of his platform is no longer an important priority.
If a credible think tank published a report on Mike Huckabee's health care plan, would I eagerly dig in? Probably not, because Mike Huckabee isn't going to be the GOP nominee. And yet, the former Arkansas governor is about as competitive right now as the former Florida governor.
The Washington Post reported yesterday on Team Jeb's investments, and I think it's fair to say, at least in the area of presidential politics, never has so much been spent to so little effect.
Both of those paragraphs paint a stunning picture. In the former, Bush's super PAC has managed to spend nearly $50 million in support of a candidate whose support has collapsed to low single-digits.
Adding insult to injury, nearly all of the investments have been made in support of positive, biographical advertising, solely intended to improve public impressions of Jeb (as compared to attack ads targeting his rivals). It's had no discernible effect.
In the latter, the super PAC's fundraising has slowed at an alarming rate. When the Florida Republican was seen as a potential frontrunner, donors were only too pleased to line up. But since the summer, the tap has started to run dry.
This isn't to say Bush is finished. In fact, I've long been of the opinion that he should stick around as long as possible, just in case. It's not like Bush has a day job he has to return to. Losing later will be no less embarrassing than quitting early.
What's more, the Washington Post's piece added that his super PAC still has "about $67 million heading into the first 2016 GOP nominating contests," which "surpasses the resources of rival groups."
The question now is whether Right to Rise realizes that making the same mistake over and over again, expecting different results, is unwise. There's some evidence of lessons learned -- the super PAC's latest spot is a negative ad targeting Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio.
Expect more from Team Jeb along these lines very soon.