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Why Jeb Bush and John Kasich attacking each other is pointless (for now)

Donald Trump talks to reporters after the Republican presidential candidates debate at the Venetian in Las Vegas on Dec. 15. (Mike Nelson/European Pressphoto Agency)

John Kasich released an ad on Tuesday that attacks Jeb Bush for being a candidate of the "good ole days" — days defined by the "Macarena," Betamax tapes and the AMC Pacer. In other words, a span of some 30 years, apparently.

Allies of Bush, meanwhile, started targeting Marco Rubio (again) for having missed votes in the Senate. As The Post reported on Wednesday, it's all part of a new focus among the mid-tier establishment candidates to take one another out, with the idea that being the last man standing will pay benefits as voters look for alternatives to Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

The problem with that strategy, of course, is that the slice of the pie they're fighting over right now is a relatively small one. As we noted last week, the establishment candidates combined poll well below Trump and are only slightly ahead of Cruz. That's combined.

Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, for one, called the strategy by Bush's PAC of attacking Rubio "insane."

Earlier this month, after we released a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, we looked at where support from one candidate would go if that candidate left the race. With George Pataki's recent departure, for example ... well, no one benefited because he had no support. That's not meant to be mean; it's just a fact. Which is the case with a lot of these attacks. If Kasich goes after Bush, how much of Bush's 4.4 percent (per the polling average) will Kasich actually get?

We made a tool to answer that question. For anyone besides Donald Trump, the numbers are so small that they lack statistical significance, but that's sort of the point. Kasich and Bush are tossing each other's deck chairs overboard in the hopes it will keep the Titanic afloat.

But anyway, we'll let the numbers make that point.

John Kasich would pick up about as many supporters as there were people dancing to the "Macarena" in his new ad. Good luck with that.

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