GOP 2016 Race Wide Open, For Now

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
Washington, DC

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll has a little of something for everyone. Amid her email meltdown, Hillary Clinton still appears set to be anointed by Democrats as their 2016 nominee, while the picture is far from settled on the Republicans side.

Establishment favorite Jeb Bush is anything but a strong candidate.

While “49% of people who plan to vote in GOP primaries said they could see themselves supporting Mr. Bush and 42% said they couldn’t … participants view him more negatively than positively, with 34% seeing him in an unfavorable light and 23% viewing him favorably.” He’s far less a lock than Hillary is for the Dems.

At the same time, for the GOP both Marco Rubio and Scott Walker are showing some strength. If nothing else, that means — a year before any actual voting — the GOP race is totally up in the air.

The two Republicans who begin the race on the strongest footing in the poll are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. More than half of GOP primary voters said they were open to supporting Messrs. Rubio or Walker, compared with 49% who said so of Mr. Bush.

Resistance within the party to Messrs. Rubio and Walker is far lower than for Mr. Bush: Some 26% said they couldn’t see themselves supporting Mr. Rubio, and 17% said so of the Wisconsin governor.

Another problem for Jeb is that, while voters claim to want to see the ever amorphous political change in 2016, the Bush name is even more equated with the past than Clinton’s is. Establishment donors who like Jeb had better wise up to what this likely means in any general election: as many conservatives think and have pointed out, it’s difficult to see a Bush beating a Clinton for the White House in 2016.

Some 51% view Mrs. Clinton, a former first lady and New York senator, more as a return to the past than a candidate for the future, compared with the 44% who say the reverse, according to the new poll.

For Mr. Bush, 60% of the country sees the first-time White House hopeful—the son and brother of the last two Republican presidents—as a figure representing the past, compared with the 27% who agreed with the statement that he would bring “new ideas and vision the country will need for the future.”

In non front-runner news, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is currently ranked at the back of the would-be pack of potential contenders. The only positive for Christie and most any others interested in running on the GOP side may be: for now, it’s too far out to view any polling as anything more than somewhat informed speculation.