Good News for Jeb: ‘No Republican In South Carolina Today More Popular than George W. Bush’

by Joel Gehrke

Jeb Bush might like to hear that his brother is the most popular Republican in South Carolina, the early primary state where George W. Bush won a key victory in his bid to secure the presidential nomination in the 2000 cycle.

An aide to Senator Lindsay Graham, who defeated several challengers in his Tuesday primary, shared this detail from their internal polling. “There’s no Republican in South Carolina today more popular than George W. Bush,” Kevin Bishop told NRO. “He is incredibly popular in South Carolina.”

That’s a far cry from where Bush was at the end of his presidency. “Bush fatigue was real in South Carolina,” Bishop said. ”But now, six years later, after President Obama, every day his star looks brighter.”

That might be good news for Jeb Bush, given the worry that voters would resist the idea of another Bush in the White House. National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar pointed out that Jeb Bush’s “vulnerabilities in a Republican primary would be remarkably similar to those [Eric Cantor] faced,” but George Bush supported immigration-law overhauls disliked by the base (and Lindsay Graham wrote one) so it’s not guaranteed that the issue would be toxic for him in the early-primary state.

It’s also not certain that George Bush’s approval rating would transfer to Jeb Bush in a 2016 primary. Another South Carolina Republican suggested that Jeb Bush’s difficulty wouldn’t be that he is another Bush, but that South Carolina voters think of him as the wrong Bush — less George W., more H.W.

“Around here, George Bush is a real, big-time conservative and Jeb is a moderate,” the campaign consultant, tying Jeb Bush to the Chamber of Commerce, said. “George Bush is the guy that you’d have beer and pretzels with and Jeb Bush is the guy that you’d have wine and cheese with.”