Delve into the most vocal supporters of Donald Trump and you may notice a recurring theme. If you do not support Trump, you are supporting Jeb Bush.
Now, that is not true, but there you have it. A lot of Trump supporters look at a fiend of 17 candidates and have concluded there are only two — Trump and not Trump, with “Not Trump” being Jeb Bush. The thinking, as best I can figure, is that Bush has so much money and the establishment so wrapped around him that only Trump can stop Bush and without Trump no one else can stop Bush.
The data suggests otherwise. Bush did not do well in his first debate. His donors are starting to get nervous. He did not shut Rubio out. His poll numbers have fallen. Among likely voters, Rubio is doing better. But TRUMP!
In 2008, the establishment backed John McCain with a lot of conservatives feeling like the deck was stacked against McCain. In 2012, the same happened again with Mitt Romney. A lot of conservatives have moved into spitting mad territory about what they perceive as a stacked deck.
The chief reaction among a number of conservatives has been to move rapidly to Team Trump.
It is not a binary choice. There are 16 other candidates. Interestingly, looking at all the polling and diving into the underlying data, I get the sense that if Jeb Bush collapses before the end of this year, his collapse also spells trouble for Trump.
The irony of all of this is that most independent analysts looking at the money and time table for the election think that Trump actually makes it more likely that Jeb Bush become the nominee. That is actually a pretty fair assessment given the amount of money Bush has and the team with which Bush is surrounded. Trump and Bush are interconnected. And if Bush actually does collapse, as some of his donors are beginning to worry about, that also means it is unlike Trump can go all the way.
Trump supporters have poured too much energy into this being a Bush v. Trump binary choice. Without Bush, suddenly it is not binary. It is Trump versus fourteen others.