Renowned political prognosticator Larry Sabato has moved former Gov. Jeb Bush to the top of his list of potential 2016 Republican presidential contenders, citing Bush’s favorable standing with the GOP establishment and the collapse of the prospects for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
Bush, Sabato said, is seen by Republicans as “a proven commodity capable of running a strong campaign and raising a Fort Knox of gold without much hand-holding.”
Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist who analyzes national politics on his Sabato’s Crystal Ball web site, puts Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at the top of his second tier of candidates, in fifth place.
Sabato’s ratings aren’t based on polls, but on interviews with Republicans and research on what kinds of candidates have been nominated in the past.
As to Bush, Sabato acknowledges, “To be clear — we don’t know if he’s running. He probably doesn’t know himself.”
A key paragraph from Sabato’s article on Bush:
“For all the sturm und drang regarding the Tea Party in the Republican nominating process, it’s going to be hard for someone who lacks widespread establishment support -- like Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) or Ted Cruz (R-TX) -- to win the nomination. Political science research indicates that endorsements from sitting officeholders and party leaders can be quite predictive of presidential nominees.
“And that leads us to another reason to take a potential Bush candidacy seriously: The establishment loves him.”
It doesn’t love Cruz and Paul, Sabato contends.
Sabato says Bush has the ability to keep other candidates out of the race if he enters, particularly Rubio.
The two are friends and close political allies, and party insiders say while both are interested in possible 2016 candidacies, they won’t run against each other.