As the Wall Street Journal is reporting, most of the big money men who might have gone to Mitt Romney seem to be turning toward Jeb Bush:

“It would be such a tough thing to do to tell either one of them ’no,’ ” said Barry Wynn, a top fundraiser for Mr. Romney in 2012 and for former President George W. Bush. “I don’t know what I would have done. This would have been a very difficult decision to make.”
Mr. Wynn said he now plans to throw his support behind Mr. Bush.
His decision echoes the choice many donors are making in the wake of Friday’s news. Dirk van Dongen, who raised nearly $1.5 million for Mr. Romney’s campaign in 2012, said the Republican fundraisers he had spoken with in recent weeks were conflicted over backing Mr. Romney or Mr. Bush. “Some of them said, ‘Hey, I’d be with Jeb Bush except for the fact that I need to know what Mitt Romney is going to do.’ “
Following Friday’s announcement, Mr. van Dongen said, “presumably those people will now sign onto the Bush initiative.”
“It simplifies the calculation,” added Mr. van Dongen, who said he committed to back Mr. Bush even before Mr. Romney said he was considering a bid.
Fundraisers said Mr. Bush stands to benefit the most from Mr. Romney’s departure from the field, but many also pointed to the brightened prospects for [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie, who would also seek support from donors in the party’s “establishment” wing.
Reports suggest that Romney may be dining with Christie and might even offer an endorsement. Would that reverse the momentum? I doubt it.

The Associated Press has a similar take. (“The donors, in interviews with The Associated Press, said they see in Bush what they liked about Romney in 2012, the capacity to serve successfully as president, but also something Romney could not muster over two campaigns: the personality and senior staff needed to win the White House.”)

Bush has already begun a professional, well run and highly effective fundraising operation that already was sweeping in many former Romney donors. Those who have seen Bush in action speak in almost glowing terms. It may be that Christie catches up, but the decisive entry into the race and the “shock and awe” sort of approach has benefited Jeb Bush.

There are several factors that will continue to influence the big money donors. First, these are people who discount, for better or worse, grassroots appeal and look at stature, poise, smarts and fluid answers. Second, they want to win — badly — and in the polls, money and organization Bush seems the best prepared for the long haul at this early stage. Third, there remain concerns about Christie’s temperament and how his New Jersey record will shape up. One GOP insider put it, “Scott Walker sounds moderate and governs like a conservative. Christie is the opposite.” Christie is a magnetic personality, but less predictable, less disciplined and less organized — the opposite of what donors want. And finally, it cannot be underestimated how long some donors go back with the Bush family. These people adore the Bushes, feel comfortable with them and believe there will be few if any surprises. They too can see the early polls and considering Christie’s wide name recognition his standing in single digits in most surveys suggest he has an uphill battle to present himself to the primary audience and overcome concerns about his larger-than-life personality.

Does this mean Bush wins the primary? Absolutely not. It means most of the establishment Republicans and big donors will head his way. But real doubts do remain about whether he is the best match-up against Hillary Clinton and if “Bush fatigue” is real. A surprising number of these donors, especially ones concerned about showing a fresh new face, will turn to Walker and to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who both are reassuring for insiders but have grassroots appeal. In fact, it is the latter two who may gain the most from Romney. Their prospects rely on exceeding expectations, providing a wider appeal to different parts of the party and the real desire to find a relatable candidate. (Both the Rubio immigrant tale and the Walker “Midwest working guy” image would fit the bill.)

For now, the pre-primary race will continue. The road ahead looks brightest for Bush, Walker and Rubio. Let’s see how they operate with voters and media over the months and months ahead.