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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jeb! Plays the Money Card

Big money is playing an unusually visible role in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Jeb Bush, the early prohibitive favorite, has struggled instead to be a viable candidate. Yet while other candidates who have polled as well or better than Bush have dropped out of the race, he remains in the contest because his supporters have very deep pockets. As of February 1, contributions to Bush’s campaign and the super PACs working for his candidacy totaled over $155 million, dwarfing what the other candidates have raised. Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner, has raised $21 million by comparison. An estimated $36 million was spent on Bush’s behalf in New Hampshire alone to bump him up to fourth place after a disastrous showing the week before in the Iowa caucus.

Nationally, our surveying shows Bush running in sixth place with four percent (4%) Republican support.

Republicans strongly condemn the influence wealthy individuals and special interests have over elections, and among all voters, the feeling is even stronger. But Trump has angered many in the Republican establishment by pointing out how the audiences at the GOP debates are stacked with special interest donors.

Many analysts point to the success of Trump and Senator Bernie Sanders against Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side as proof that big money can’t buy electability. But despite continuing low voter support, Bush can afford to stay in the race, while his backers spend seemingly endless millions trashing the other Republican candidates. Will special interest money buy Bush the nomination that voters are unwilling to give him?

For Rasmussen Reports, I’m Fran Coombs.