How Donald Trump destroyed Jeb Bush’s campaign

Written 7 November 2015

A lot of this could be considered out of date, but it is something I have been thinking about recently. Donald Trump and Jeb Bush were the leaders in the polls only a couple of months ago, going to head to head in the debates. Bush was considered the darling of the GOP establishment and had raised over $100,000,000 for his super-PAC. Meanwhile, Trump has no super-PACs and is mostly self-funding (although he does use donations). The disparity in results was stark for the candidates, with Trump garnering twice the support Bush did for most of the campaign.

The usual attacks from trump were pretty characteristic of what his campaign represented: mainly jabs and insults. Although many pundits predicted the collapse of the Trump campaign, this had the opposite effect, making him even more popular among a base of voters who are dissatisfied with mainstream politicians. Yet, there was an element to Trump’s campaign which proved to be quite intelligent (despite his 3rd grade rhetoric).

In the second GOP debate, Trump criticized George Bush for failing to keep the country safe. This forced Jeb on the defensive, but not for himself; he was forced to defend his brother, an unpopular figure in today’s politics. This was largely forgotten until Trump realized how damaging this attack could be.

All of a sudden, Trump went on a media campaign talking about George Bush’s failure to keep Americans safe on 9/11 and even made the claims on Fox News. Jeb, again, was forced to defend his brother, an unpopular president. This had the effect of associating Jeb with his brother, from whom he had previously been trying to distance himself. The result was a drop in the polls and a spot on the sidelines in the 3rd GOP debate.

Trump seems to have a genuine dislike of his rival as can be seen from his recent Twitter feed, where he posts retweets from his followers mocking Jeb. Meanwhile, Jeb has lashed out in frustration, before hiring Jon Krashaur to teach him how to be an “alpha male“, as one pundit eloquently put it. Essentially, Donald trump is bullying poor, nerdy Jeb and spitting in his face while Jeb is trying to man up.

Although Trump may seem like a buffoon, a lot of pundits and politicians have made the mistake of underestimating his ability. He has stayed 1st in the polls for months now, and is poised to stay there for some time. As I mentioned above, he is astute when it comes to strategy and he could do a lot more damage to the other candidates in the future.