Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Jeb Bush is the Republican's Only Hope (and maybe Marco Rubio)

I could go candidate by candidate through the Republican 2016 primary and analyze their strengthens and weaknesses in a general election, but I honestly don't see the point: Jeb Bush is their only hope. If he doesn't win the Republican primary, the game is over before halftime. Hands-down. 

And the reason is simple: Demographics in Florida. (Nationally too, but the electoral college makes winning Florida an absolute prerequisite for any Republican  to even have a chance).

Legend has it that as soon as LBJ put down the pen that he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he turned to his aide and said,"We've lost the South for a generation" - knowing that the coming white backlash was to be overwhelming. It wasn't long before Nixon's Southern Strategy used thinly-veiled racism to bring the South into the Republican Party and sparked a conservative era that peaked with the Reagan Revolution and only in 2008 seemed to be petering out.

Now the Chickens have come home to roost. Demographic trends have made it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win national elections, even though they have done incredibly well on the state and local level in 2010 and 2014 off-year elections due to older white men that turned out to vote. But now they have a major demographics problem going into 2016 that they have yet to begin to address. 

George Bush won Florida in 2000 by barely over 100 votes. That was when it was 78 percent White. It's now 75 percent White and falling. It will be even less by election day. Talk about an uphill fight.

Jeb Bush can overcome this. He was a popular governor of Florida. He is still well-liked there. The rest of the Republican field has no ties to the state (except of course, the junior Florida Senator Marco Rubio). Unsurprisingly, only Jeb Bush is competitive against Hillary Clinton there. She buries the rest of the field. 

This isn't to say Jeb will be the nominee, or that if he is then he will win the Presidency. It's only to say that he is the only one who has a chance. He is the Republican's only hope.