Ask most people what the matchup will be in the 2016 general election, and they will tell you Hillary Clinton vs. Jeb Bush.
That response is, in some part, a result of the fact that the average person who doesn't watch politics all that closely probably hasn't heard of anyone in the running in 2016 outside of Clinton and Bush, whose families have been in office or running for office since, roughly, forever. But, that general public view is also shared by no small number of people who follow politics as their profession/obsession, too. The amounts of money both Bush and Clinton can raise, coupled with their widespread support within the establishment, are seen by many as a combination that will be hard for anyone not named "Jeb" or "Hillary" to beat in a primary.
Clinton, as I noted earlier today in this space, is a near-lock to be the Democratic nominee in 2016. But when it comes to Bush, I think there is considerable reason to be skeptical that he will walk to the nomination. My doubts are nicely summed up in this PowerPoint slide put together by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican polling firm that helps conduct the NBC-Wall Street Journal poll.
Remember that Bush is both broadly supportive of Common Core, the set of nationalized education standards, as well as comprehensive immigration reform. Those two stances are, at least at the moment, close to disqualifying among large swaths of what we believe will be the Republican primary electorate in places such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
Among the most conservative voters nationally -- a.k.a. the people who vote in generally low turnout caucuses and primaries -- 85 percent said they would be less likely to support a candidate who is in favor of a "pathway to citizenship" for undocumented workers. Seven in 10 of those same voters said they would be less likely to support a candidate who supports Common Core. Among self-described tea party voters, the numbers are almost identical, with 82 percent saying they would be less likely to support a candidate who supports a pathway to citizenship and 72 percent saying the same about a candidate who supports Common Core. (It's also worth noting that those two groups are where the anti-dynasty sentiment runs strongest. Sixty-three percent of tea partyers would be more likely to back a candidate not named "Clinton" or "Bush," while 58 percent of very conservative voters said the same.)
Not surprisingly, "moderate/liberal" Republican voters -- which effectively functions as code for the party establishment -- are the most accepting of a candidate with views like Bush's on Common Core and immigration. But even among that group, pluralities say support of Common Core and a pathway to citizenship would make them less likely to back a candidate.
Now, Jeb Bush and his rapidly expanding political team are well aware that his stances on these two issues put him out of step with the party base. And, given that reality, he is likely to talk as little about them as possible and, when asked, to try to steer the question back to safer ground -- like attacking President Obama. He's already doing some of that on Common Core. "The opposition to the common core has been mostly fueled by President Obama and his administration attempting to take credit for and co-opt a state-led initiative," he said last November.
Bush has famously said that a candidate has to be willing to "lose the primary to win the general." The slide above suggests that unless he can change conservatives' minds or change the conversation entirely, he might well make good on the first part of that sentence.