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Establishment Favorite, Jeb, Is Tightening The Campaign Budget, … And More Finance Facts Regarding The 2016 POTUS Primary

What is the significance of 15:1 in the GOP POTUS primary? Read on. The Well, it should be a surprise to no one that the establishment golden boy and GOP pick for the primary nomination, Jeb Bush, isn’t fairing so well in the current primary polls. So, the current state of affairs has caused him to cut staff and slow the flow of funds to advertisers and other expenses.

Bloomberg just released this reportJeb Bush, once a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, is implementing an across-the-board pay cut for his struggling campaign as he attempts to regain traction just 100 days before the party’s first nominating contest.

The campaign is removing some senior staff from the payroll, parting ways with some consultants, and downsizing its Miami headquarters to save more than $1 million per month and cut payroll by 40 percent this week, according to Bush campaign officials who requested anonymity to speak about internal changes. Senior leadership positions remain unchanged.

The campaign is also cutting back 45 percent of its budget, except for dollars earmarked for TV advertising and spending for voter contacts, such as phone calls and mailers. Some senior-level staff and consultants will continue to work with the campaign on a volunteer basis, while other junior-level consultants, primarily in finance but including other areas, will be let go, the officials said. The officials declined to say who would be removed from the payroll or provide an exact dollar figure for the savings. (A summary of the changes, provided to Bloomberg Politics by the campaign, is posted here.)

Bush’s advisers, under pressure from their donors and from falling and stagnant poll numbers, have been discussing ways to retool the campaign in recent days, and came to the conclusion that a course correction was essential. While recent tangles with Donald Trump have energized the campaign, Bush’s senior team recognized a more fundamental set of changes was required that didn’t involve dealing directly with the party’s surprising—and surprisingly durable—front-runner.

Analysts and rival campaigns will view the changes as a desperate act, perhaps the last one, of a man whose campaign has dropped in the polls in recent months and has remained mired in the middle of a crowded field despite a month-long blitz of friendly television ads. None of the changes deal directly with what even many of Bush’s supporters say is his main challenge: The burden of trying to convince voters hungry for change to choose a man whose father and brother both served as president.

Officials said the changes—the second time the campaign has cuts its payroll this year—will enable them to shift more resources into New Hampshire, where the campaign has the largest operation in the state, and other states where early voters begin casting ballots in February. There will be more volunteers and surrogates for Bush, which the campaign refers to as “friends of Jeb,” on the ground to help in a state that his brother lost in 2000 and his father won in 1988.

One Bush adviser told Bloomberg Politics in an interview Friday morning that the team was “unapologetic” about the changes, saying the moves were from a “position of strength.” “This is about winning the race,” the adviser said. “We’re doing it now and making the shifts with confidence. We expect to win.”

Perhaps the real info is in the details of the campaign finance reports. There is a difference in the kind of support that these reports reveal about “winnability.” Big donors vs. small donors tell the story. Regardless of the favor you can muster from big buck donors, at some point you have to gain the votes of the little guy, to win an election. And if a certain number of small donors don’t, eventually, jump on the bandwagon, big donors dry up. Here’s what’s happening to Jeb.

National Review thinks Jeb is toast.

Below are the ratios between big-donor (more than $2,000) and small-donor (less than $2,000) amounts raised for candidates,

2000–2016, through the third quarter of the year preceding the general election: 2016 Clinton 3:1, Sanders 1:33 Carson 1:11.5, Cruz 1:1.6, Bush 15:1, Rubio 1.7:1, Fiorina 1:2.5, Trump 1:6.5

A few points stand out. First, ratios of big- to small-donor money have fallen. The importance of small-donor money has grown. Even the famously plutocratic Romney raised a higher percentage of his money from small donors than did George W. Bush in 2000. Obama’s ratio of small-donor to big-donor money in 2012 was 18 times higher than Gore’s in 2000. Second, Jeb Bush cannot win. I don’t say this because I dislike Jeb. (On the contrary, I think he has virtues as both a candidate and a person.) But the numbers don’t lie. It’s not just that his ratio of big-donor to small-dollar donations is vastly out of sync with the rest of the GOP and Democratic fields today. (Even Romney’s ratio of small-donor to big-donor dollars was more than twice Jeb’s.) Jeb’s big-donor to small-donor ratio is 15:1. No candidate has ever won the nomination with such a heavy reliance on big donors, even at a time when big-donor money made up a much larger percentage of total fundraising. For the rest of the GOP field, the ratio of big-donor to small-donor money is 1:1.6. Furthermore, Jeb ranks just third in total fundraising. For reasons I examine below, that seems unlikely to improve.

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