(Other people might ask whether Bush is in danger of being perceived as the "big money" candidate in the race. I am not convinced -- and have never been shown any evidence -- that voters much care about where fundraising dollars come from.)
The "how much" question is harder to answer than you might think for two reasons: (1) Bush doesn't have an actual presidential committee yet and (2) we are in the age of the super PAC. What Bush has are two organizations of the same name: Right to Rise the leadership PAC and Right to Rise the super PAC.
So, before I even try, let me note that we are comparing apples to oranges at some level.
Leadership PACs at the presidential level started to phase out after the 2004 election. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the two big fundraisers on the Democratic side, got into the 2008 race in February 2007 -- totally skipping the leadership PAC phase. Ditto Mitt Romney that year. And, remember that the Citizens United ruling was still two years off during the 2008 election, so super PACS didn't exist. Regardless, here's what Clinton, Obama and Romney raised during the first three months of 2007.
* Clinton: $36 million raised, $31 million cash on hand
* Obama $26 million raised, $19 million cash on hand
* Romney $23 million raised, $12 million on hand
By this point in the 2012 election, super PACS were a thing although, in truth, they didn't really get started raising big money until far later in the election cycle. Neither now President Obama nor Romney, the eventual GOP nominee, was in the race or raising money by now in 2011. Both began officially raising money in the second quarter, which ended June 30, 2011. Their fundraising numbers -- and those of their associated super PACs at that time -- are below.
* Obama: $46 million raised, $37 million on hand
* Priorities USA Action (Obama super PAC): $3 million raised, $1.9 million on hand
* Romney: $18 million raised, $13 million on hand
* Restore Our Future (Romney super PAC): $12 million raised, $12 million on hand
Add it up and you get $83 million for Obama/Obama super PAC and $30 million for Romney/Romney super PAC. And remember that is over the first six months of 2011, not the first three months of 2015.
What about George W. Bush, you ask? Does how the older brother running for president performed in his own first fundraising quarter set the bar for what we should expect the younger brother to do?
W was in the race and raising money in the early part of 1999; he was regarded, far more so than Jeb, as the clear front-runner at the time. He raised $7.6 million and had $6.7 million on hand. Four years later, as the sitting president, Bush started his cash collection operation far later -- in the third fundraising quarter of 2003. That late start didn't hurt him as he collected more than $81 million in those three months, a stunning total and still the most every raised by a presidential candidate in a single quarter.
So then, where to set Jeb's expectations? His campaign-in-waiting denied a Bloomberg report that his goal is to collect $100 million in the first three months of 2015. Even if they come close to that number, it would be an absolutely staggering total. Romney's $30 million combined -- between super PAC and candidate committee -- in 2011 seems very beatable for Jeb. (And, again, that was a Romney fundraising total from six months, not three.) Could Jeb get to his brother $80+ million raised from way back in 2003 -- six months earlier but with the benefit of taking unlimited contributions via his super PAC? Maybe.
Bush's goal with his early start and extremely aggressive fundraising schedule is to send a message to the rest of the field that he's the guy to beat. He appears headed for a quarter -- when you combine the leadership PAC and the super PAC -- to do just that.