Despite the defeat of Eric Cantor, and strong showings by Tea Party–linked Republicans in Mississippi and in Texas, it’s still true that the mainstream, conservative-establishment GOP is in control, and that’s what matters for 2016. Quirky outliers such as Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee might be able to stay in the race in 2016, and it’s entirely possible that one Tea Party type could hang on to the convention with a passel of delegates, but it’s still true that the Republicans are going to nominate someone from its establishment, Wall Street– and US Chamber of Commerce–backed wing—that if it’s not Jeb Bush or Chris Christie, then it’ll be someone of that ilk.
Today, we’ll review the bidding again on Jeb Bush. Ever since Christie ran into his current Bridgegate fiasco, there’s been a boomlet of speculation that Jeb, W.’s younger, smarter brother, might make a run. With Cantor’s defeat, some conservative analysts are making the argument that because Bush has challenged the far right with his support for immigration reform and Common Core education standards, he can’t win the nomination. But that’s nonsense. Perhaps the Tea Party can make noise in southern Virginia, the Deep South and the Lone Star State’s raucous, Ted Cruz–dominated politics, but in delegate-rich states in the Midwest such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, not to mention New York and California, the GOP establishment has the upper hand—as it has demonstrated all year long, defeating a long list of Tea Party acolytes in favor of traditional GOP conservatives. As a Bloomberg writer pointed out in the Miami Herald, Bush “would be the spokesman for sane conservatism.” Now, liberals and others on the left might argue otherwise—namely, that Bush, Christie and other would-be standard-bearers would set up a White House that would empower that very worst of a GOP-controlled Congress’s extremism, and that they themselves represent a mainstream Republican party that has moved far, far to the right—but there’s still a difference between Cruz-style shut-down-the-government politics and the business-as-usual, pro-business views of low-tax, anti-regulation, cut-the-budget Republicans such as Bush and Christie.
And the big-money guys—Sheldon Adelson, hedge fund billionaires such as Paul Singer, Wall Street bankers and even the Koch brothers—are likely to line up behind one or another of the mainstream pols. (The rest of Wall Street will support Hillary Clinton.)
For Republicans, except among its pitchfork-carrying wing, the reason why Bush or Christie might be preferable is simply because they are the only ones with a prayer of defeating Clinton in a general election. That was the point in a recent poll in Iowa Poll conducted by the Des Moines Register, which concluded: