Is there a better way to summarize what's happened so far in the GOP presidential primary by pointing out that on the same day that Donald Trump makes his first official Florida campaign stop in Miami, Jeb Bush announces that he's drastically cutting payroll and staff at his campaign's Miami headquarters? Probably not.
Bush technically has more money behind his campaign than any other candidate regardless of party, but all that money wasn't able to keep his early lead afloat. He's now sitting at fifth place in an average of recent national polls and has since been surpassed by that other Miami-based candidate Marco Rubio.
In response, Bush has decided to restructure his campaign and is slashing positions and payroll at his Miami office.
About 50 percent of his Miami office will be laid off. Payroll will be reduced by a hefty 40 percent, and travel costs will be cut by 20 percent. Some Miami staffers will be offered jobs in offices in early primary
According to Politico, the move comes at the behest of Bush's donors. The Bush campaign is burning through money and has spent more than anyone on television in ads in early primary states, consultants, travel, and overall payroll for what was until today a 134-person staff.
Bush so far has raised a total $133.3 million in his war chest, but only $24.8 million is in the hands of the campaign staff itself. The other $108.5 is tied up in super PACs, mostly Bush's Right to Rise PAC. Super PAC money can be used to promote a candidate, but the PACs can't officially communicate with the campaign. Obviously, paying for campaign staffing expenses is out of the question.
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Of the $24.8 million donated directly to the campaign, Bush had spent $14.5 million through September 30, according to the latest campaign report data available. He only had $10.3 million on hand, less than candidates like Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson. Bush notably has struggled to get money from regular Americans through grassroots efforts. Most of his money is from the proverbial one percent. That one percent is now telling him to cut costs, and Bush has responded.
Though it seems paradoxical, some of Donald Trump's success has come by pointing out how much regular politicians are beholden to their rich donors. By mostly funding his own campaign, Trump stands out as a man beholden to no one. Though, again, it might not make total sense given the policies of the party they vote for, there is currently a non-negligible thread of anti-corporate and anti-billionaire sentiment running through the conservative grassroots.
With his massive super PAC money, it's hard for Bush to paint himself as a candidate of the people. The fact that he comes from a political dynasty that includes two of our last four presidents doesn't help him much either.
Granted, the (what may still turn out to be temporary) failing of a single candidate doesn't excuse away concerns about super PACs by any means, but it's nice to know that all the shady money in the world doesn't necessarily translate into guaranteed success.