The day Jeb Bush formally announced his candidacy for the presidency, he led in Real Clear Politics’ average of national polls — a position that he would hold for about a month until the unexpected surge of Donald Trump left him in the dust.
Among the many bulwarks that were supposed to protect Bush’s candidacy on its path to the nomination was the massive financial power of Right to Rise, a super PAC backing Bush’s candidacy run by Mike Murphy, a longtime Bush adviser. Right to Rise has raised nearly $120 million to try and get Bush elected, a massive sum that could be spent to try and keep others from moving ahead of him in the polls.
As it stands on Saturday, with South Carolina headed to the polls to determine whether or not Bush can keep his long-shot campaign going, he is in sixth place nationally, having dropped 12.4 percentage points from his peak in the polling average. Trump, on the other hand, has been in the lead almost without exception since July of last year — and has been the target of far less spending by Right to Rise than other Bush competitors.
ProPublica has been compiling data on Right to Rise’s spending, and, as the outlet’s Derek Willis noted on Twitter, only a tiny fraction of that has been spent in direct opposition to Trump.
An outside group like Right to Rise has to report when it spends money for or against candidates and also when spending does both. Looking only at money spent by Right to Rise only against Trump gives us that tiny $25,000 number. Looking at spending only against Trump and partly against Trump — like an ad that hits Trump and John Kasich, or whatever — the sum is slightly higher.
Right to Rise has spent four cents on every dollar attacking Trump and others in advertising.
Another way to look at it: Right to Rise has spent far more opposing Kasich than Trump, according to ProPublica’s data.
Right to Rise’s strategy has been — and remains — to clear out all of the other candidates that will appear to establishment/moderate Republicans, leaving a Trump-Bush fight. That clearly hasn’t worked, serving in part only to wound non-Trump opponents — leaving them in the race and splitting the vote.
Trump, meanwhile, gets to sail past relatively unscathed, on his way, the polls suggest, to another big win in South Carolina.
Bush, meanwhile, may not make it to March.