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Tipsheet

Poll: Is Jeb Bush Struggling To Win Over Moderates?

Though Jeb Bush had a good day yesterday, delivering an inaugural campaign speech that exuded both optimism and humility, he is one of 11 contenders vying for the GOP nomination.

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Eleven.

That figure, however, does not include the likes of John Kasich, Scott Walker, and Donald Trump — all of whom are almost certainly going to throw their hats into the ring. Others will as well. In other words, if Jeb Bush wants to follow in the footsteps of his father and brother, he’s got much to prove — and his work cut out for him.

And yet, Bush is not polling as well as he’d presumably like among the constituency he needs most (read: moderates) to win the nomination, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds.

Roughly 3,000 “self-identified Republicans” participated in the survey — and the results speak for themselves:

While Bush leads the field overall (14 percent) and among so-called moderates (18 percent), the devil — as they say — is in the details:

[Interviews] with a dozen Republican voters indicate that Bush's support isn't especially firm at this point in the race, when few voters are paying close attention. Bush's famous last name is an asset for those who fondly recall the presidencies of his father, George H.W. Bush, and brother George W. Bush. Several poll respondents told Reuters in follow-up interviews that they supported him because they simply were not familiar with other candidates.

"I'm very likely to change my mind now that other candidates are coming out," said Tonya Hodge, 48, a child-care worker in Murrels Inlet, South Carolina.

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What happens, then, when candidates with strong records — and little name recognition — start giving stump speeches and hitting the trail? What happens when they turn in strong debate performances or start courting major donors? This isn’t to say that Jeb Bush can’t win the nomination — as a matter of fact, he has the funds to do just that. But unlike in 2012, the margin for error is much smaller.

It also doesn’t help that Bush's so-called 'supporters' aren't especially supportive of him. Based on this poll, they appear ready (and willing) to jump ship the moment a better candidate comes along. We'll see.

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