Jeb Bush: 2016 GOP Frontrunner

Surely, this can’t possibly be right. After all, I was reliably informed that Jeb Bush is a “RINO,”1 that he’s not a “real conservative,”2 and that because he is an “amnesty squish,”3 he doesn’t stand a candle’s chance in a cyclone of winning the GOP nomination. And yet . . .

Jeb Bush is the clear Republican presidential frontrunner, surging to the front of the potential GOP pack following his announcement that he’s “actively exploring” a bid, a new CNN/ORC poll found.

He takes nearly one-quarter — 23% — of Republicans surveyed in the new nationwide poll, putting him 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tallied 13%.

[. . .]

Bush’s 10-point lead is a milestone for the potential GOP field — it marks the first time any prospective candidate has reached a lead beyond a poll’s margin of error in the past two years.

Oh, and take a look at this:

Bush would still face some skepticism from GOP primary voters if he ran, but the CNN/ORC poll shows they are largely willing to forgive him for some of his more controversial comments and positions.

GOP primary voters are about evenly split on whether his support for allowing some illegal immigrants to stay in the United States makes them more or less likely to support him, or has no difference on their opinion of him.

Forty-two percent say his description of illegal immigration as an “act of love” make them less likely to support Bush, but another 39% say it makes no difference to them.

And while 40% say the fact that state government spending increased under Bush’s watch as Florida governor, another 49% say that doesn’t matter to them.

Even on Common Core educational standards, which many conservatives vehemently oppose, GOP primary voters are about evenly split on whether his support for those standards would make them less likely to support him.

Regardless, however, Bush may ultimately have little trouble overcoming his sins with the conservative base, as the CNN/ORC poll found Republican primary voters taking a pragmatic stance on the party’s nominee.

Obviously, much of this has to do with the fact that Bush is the flavor of the month; it will be interesting to see what happens to his poll standings over time. But as the CNN story makes clear, Republican voters are in a pragmatic mood. Maybe that is because Republicans realize that the party has lost four out of the last six presidential elections, and five of the last six popular votes for president. Maybe Republican voters are ready to reverse that trend. Maybe Republican voters see that Bush–unlike other Republican candidates–is very well-positioned to reach out to moderates and independents (without whom a general election cannot be won) in any fall campaign against any Democratic opponent. And maybe Republican voters are sick and tired of being told by ideological warriors with no sense of how to achieve the art of the possible that Republicans ought to nominate candidates who can’t possibly win general elections.

And hey, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Jeb Bush is a conservative. No doubt about it.

1. Whatever this term means.

2. Ditto.

3. And again.