Should we look to the GOP primary of 1880 for analysis of Jeb’s chances?

Should we look to the GOP primary of 1880 for analysis of Jeb’s chances?

[Ed. – Forget Ford-Reagan ’76; Jay Cost makes the case for Grant-Garfield 1880 — with Jeb Bush in the Grant role.  It’s original, at least.]

The Washington Post recently christened Jeb Bush the frontrunner, and for good reason. He is pulling in the top Republican talent — the donors, consultants, and various policy advisors necessary to fund and run a top-notch campaign.

Yet, his polling numbers are anemic. The average fromReal Clear Politics (RCP) shows Bush pulling in just 14 percent nationwide. In New Hampshire, RCP finds him with 16 percent, and 12 percent in Iowa. …

The 1880 campaign has been mostly forgotten, but the nomination that year was really a watershed in the young GOP’s history. …

On the first ballot, [Ulysses S.] Grant collected a little more than 300 delegates, putting him well within striking distance of the 379 needed to win the nomination. His support was centered in states with strong GOP machines — Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania — as well as Southern states where Democrats had a stranglehold on electoral politics, and the handful of Republicans desperately needed federal patronage. But Grant’s support stalled beyond that.

For ballot after ballot, various anti-Grant candidates rose and fell, until they finally coalesced around an alternative, James Garfield of Ohio. …

There may be a similar process at play on the GOP side of the ledger in 2016. …

[T]here is today a class of professional politicians — a modern group of consultants, advisors, donors, lobbyists etc. — who prospered under 12 years of Bush presidencies. They are eager for a Bush restoration in 2016, just as the Stalwarts were clamoring for a return to Grantism in 1880.

Meanwhile, the broader GOP electorate seems wary, at best. At this point in the 2000 cycle, George W. Bush was polling upwards of 40 percent nationwide.

Continue reading →


Commenting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

You may use HTML in your comments. Feel free to review the full list of allowed HTML here.