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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/12/15

If GOP wants to win in 2016, party should not nominate Jeb

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Jeb Bush at the top of the GOP ticket could assure a Democratic victory in 2016.
Jeb Bush at the top of the GOP ticket could assure a Democratic victory in 2016.
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If GOP wants to win in 2016, party should not nominate Jeb

Although people like to say "throw the bums out" before American elections, when it comes down to casting ballots, voters choose incumbents, mainstream candidates, establishment nominees, and party regulars the vast majority of the time.

Except in Presidential elections. It's an oddity in American politics that in the most important race of all, voters tend to favor insurgents, fresh faces, and untested candidates over regulars, mainstreamers, and establishment types.

The proof? Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter, all fit the definition of insurgents and fresh faces, Bike noted.

Each of them achieved the Presidency on his first try. Whereas candidates who had been around for a while--Walter Mondale, Bob Dole, John Kerry, John McCain, and Mitt Romney--obtained their party's nomination, but then went down to defeat.

People forget that even Ronald Reagan was an insurgent.

Although Reagan had run for president in 1968 and 1976, even in 1980 when he finally achieved the Republican nomination, the party regulars hadn't wanted him. The establishment had backed George H.W. Bush in the primaries and were worried that mainstream, middle-of-the-road, suburban Republicans and independents wouldn't vote for Reagan, who was the candidate of the populists, the farm belt, and the conservatives. That's why they insisted on Bush being chosen for Vice President when Reagan insiders would have preferred Jack Kemp or Paul Laxalt.

That history does not bode well for Jeb Bush,

It feels like the Bushes have been around forever, and it will be almost impossible for Jeb to differentiate himself from his brother and father. Most of Jeb's advisors were members of the George W. Bush administration, so it's not like there are any fresh faces there at all. A recent New York Times article quoted even some rank-and-file Republicans who looked at Jeb as merely a retread of his brother.

Yet the party regulars, establishment, and big-money contributors have been moving into the Jeb camp, even as the candidate polls poorly and even sometimes gets booed at Republican events.

A fresh face like a Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio as the nominee would energize the Republican base and pique the interest of Americans who normally have only a casual interest in politics. Jeb Bush, an old face by default because of his association with his brother and father, just won't excite the base or engage people who don't pay a lot of attention to politics.

A Hillary Clinton-Jeb Bush general election race with two old faces will really be a ho-hummer for most people,and could result in a 2016 voter turnout that dips below 40%.

But put up a fresh face against Clinton, and the Republicans could really make it a horse race, if history is any guide. Newcomer Obama beat the familiar McCain; newcomer George W. Bush beat the familiar Al Gore; newcomer Bill Clinton beat incumbent George H.W. Bush; and the list goes on.

The GOP candidate in 2016 is either going to be an establishment Republican like Jeb Bush who will disappoint the Tea Party, or a newcomer who will excite them. George W. Bush had both establishment business credentials and conservative social issues credibility. Jeb Bush has the former, but is desperately trying to establish the latter.

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William S. Bike is Senior Vice President of ANB Communications, a communications consulting and political consulting firm based in Chicago. Bike has worked in journalism, public relations, and politics since 1979 and is the former Communications (more...)
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