Jeb Bush has dropped out of the race after quite a poor showing in the South Carolina primary. I still believe that if he had done well, he could have come back to become the front runner, but he did poorly. Very poorly in fact. He barely came ahead of John Kasich and Ben Carson, despite his far greater name recognition and campaign spending. It was indeed a poor enough showing to convince Jeb to end his campaign. Although, Jeb Bush did not need to drop out of the race. His campaign still had the money to continue. But there was little point. His poll numbers were not rising despite all the money put into advertising, and he seemed incapable of ever producing a top three finish in a primary. But the most important thing about Jeb Bush ending his campaign is what happens next, and in particular, who do his donors support now?
In all likelihood, they will support Marco Rubio. He is now the undoubted establishment candidate, or at least, the candidate closest to the establishment with a chance of winning. Some of Jeb’s donors may be pulled away by Trump, Cruz, or even Kasich, but the majority will probably end up backing Rubio. This is especially important in the run-up to ‘Super Tuesday,’ when a dozen or so (depending on the party) states vote for their choice of nominee. With so many states voting, no candidate can cover all of them personally and the gaps must be filled with ad money, and for many candidates they still might not have enough money to sponsor advertisements in every state. This makes campaign financing particularly important for Super Tuesday. The candidates who will do the best will be the ones with enough money to cover all the states voting on Super Tuesday. Donald Trump has his personal fortune to cover him. But the other candidates are not so lucky. The race is on to win Jeb’s donors, and this may prove to be one of the most consequential votes of this election.