Jeb Bush’s dismal performance in the 2016 election primaries are not exactly shocking, considering the debates and poll results over the past few months. In 2012, however, most Republican voters would expect Jeb to perform well in 2016. Initially believed to be the GOP front runner when he announced his candidacy, Jeb’s failure to adjust his campaigning strategy to adapt to the changing political sphere, ultimately led to him dropping out.
For one, Jeb did not understand the importance of political stagecraft. During the debates, Jeb lacked charisma and charm, two qualities that American people subconsciously look for in a president. Jeb gave lengthy (and at times, boring) answers to questions that could not be turned into interesting sound bytes, leaving his name out of the media and isolating him from the voters who do not have an extensive knowledge of policy. Jeb acknowledged the American desire for an interesting candidate, stating “I’m running for president. If they’re looking for entertainer in chief, I’m probably not the guy.” While the next POTUS should not make the entertainment of the country his number 1 goal, in order to win his way into the Oval Office, he will need to be interesting enough for the voters to want to elect him.
Jeb also failed to take Donald Trump seriously. Donald Trump targeted Jeb early on and Jeb attempted to take the high road. Unfortunately for Jeb, the high road is not nearly as interesting for American voters. Trump made Jeb out to seem like a complete joke, accurately predicting that “soon you’ll be off the [debate] stage.” Jeb’s campaign strategy of rejecting his last name and using an exclamation point in his logo also made Jeb seem like a less than serious candidate.
Jeb! not only failed due to his own actions, but also do to the changing political environment of America. Jeb was a “candidate who stood for an entire generation of Republican Party building, who was the figurative and literal heir to the family brand that had graced nearly every GOP ticket for a generation.” In 2012, the GOP begged Jeb to run, even after the primaries had begun. Then why in 2016 did he perform so poorly?
The GOP establishment is changing; look at who is leading the primaries: a business man/personality who has no political experience and a young, hispanic, senator. The Republican voters seems to want a candidate who is different than the past Republican candidates. Jeb didn’t realize this, or if he did, he didn’t adapt, and failed as a result.
Jeb wanted to be President, he wanted to do good for a party that had consistently supported his family, and he had the qualifications to do the job well. While this may have been enough in previous elections, it certainly is not in this election, nor will it be in the future.