The Crystal Ball is out with its latest political observations but what particularly caught my attention was the 2016 Republican presidential field (see 2016 Presidential Update: For Republicans, a Vacancy at the Top).
Larry Sabato, Kyle Kondik, and Geoffrey Skelley at the U.Va. Center for Politics have weighed in with their latest thoughts as Republicans scramble to find a top-runner even as Democrats seemingly settle on Hillary Clinton as their 2016 nominee.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is still at the head of the pack. Before anyone mentions his last name as a liability, Hillary on the Democratic ticket would probably neutralize that argument, as noted by Sabato and crew. With no Republican names in a “First Tier” ranking, the Crystal Ball writes:
We still believe Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and member of the GOP dynasty, would be a frontrunner if he entered the race, and we suspect the party’s establishment forces favor him over all other candidates. He also would have the potential to dissuade other establishment-oriented candidates from running. That said, Bush has done absolutely nothing to suggest that he’s truly interested in taking on the campaign. So he remains the first name on the list, but is no longer first tier.
So what I’m reading is that all Jeb has to do is signal his intent to enter the race, and he would be top tier — the only one at that level at this point in the game. The Sabato Team highlights Jeb’s strong pros for the job: “Strong gubernatorial resume, Hispanic connections, establishment favorite: might discourage other establishment candidates from running, national Bush money and organization.”
Sabato says there’s a vacancy on the first tier for Republicans in the 2016 race. Jeb could, and should, fill it.