Then, the race actually began. Bush launched his campaign in mid-June, and by mid-July began a steady decline. While he topped out at around 17 percent, most national polls now have him stuck in the back of the pack, around 5 percent.
After basically ceding Iowa and finishing sixth, in New Hampshire, he does slightly better, coming in around 10 percent with a bunch of other candidates essentially tied for second place. That still leaves Bush in a jumbled race of non-Donald Trumps, but it does appear to be his best hope for a state to win.
How has he performed?
Bush’s campaign has been the most underwhelming of the entire race. Coming in with a front-runner’s presidential pedigree (quite literally), Bush has rarely looked the part on the campaign trail, trying several different tacks to get voters interested in his campaign (one was “Jeb Can Fix It”) – none of which have worked.
His troubles are magnified when you consider the massive sums of money being spent on his behalf; his first fundraising haul halfway through 2015 was north of $100 million – a staggering sum that no other candidate has matched. Much of that money has been spent, though, and Bush has basically nothing to show for it. Should he fail to gain traction, Bush’s campaign will surely be remembered as an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.
Bush might have given up on Iowa, but it wasn't for lack of effort. He left the state with his supporters having spent more than anyone else.
What are his strengths?
Bush is reputed to be a very serious and dedicated policymaker. While his brother was often viewed as a cowboy who relied on his gut and shot from the hip, Bush is more cerebral and serious – bookish almost. He also happens to have a pretty stellar profile as a popular former governor of a very important state in presidential politics.
In a policy debate, it’s unlikely anybody in the GOP race could beat Bush. And from a personal standpoint, he’s someone that members of the Republican establishment generally like and think of as a real-deal chief executive.
What are his weaknesses?
The prevailing conventional wisdom here is that Bush is just ill-suited for this particular campaign and point in time. GOP voters seem much more interested in bravado, personal magnetism and outsider credentials. Bush has none of these things.
For how serious Bush is viewed as a policymaker and person, that’s been part of his downfall in this campaign. He’s less-adept at compelling people to vote for him. He’s awkward on the trail. He’s completely mismatched when he tries to go toe-to-toe with the likes of Donald Trump, but also with his one-time mentee, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.).
What would it take for him to win the nomination?
Bush probably needs to somehow win New Hampshire. If he wants to stay in the race, he likely needs to at least beat out the other GOP establishment candidates like Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Given Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) are the two leading contenders nationally and in most states, it appears for now that there is a premium on being the one candidate the GOP establishment unites around.
The path to the nomination from here is long and difficult, but for Bush, New Hampshire is where it begins – or ends.