Jeb Bush, who is definitely not leading the Republican primary polls, told Fox News on Sunday that he doesn’t even care about those stupid numbers anyway. “These polls really don’t matter. They don’t filter out the people that aren’t going to vote. It’s just … an obsession, because it kind of frames the debate for people for that week.”
Regardless of how Bush feels, many of his donors and supporters think his standing in the race is kind of lame, according to the Washington Post, although they are also trying to ignore the polls as much as possible — or spin them into sunshine. One fund-raiser told the Post, “Right now the polls are measuring mood. It’s more like picking a date than a mate.”
Bush and his supporters are perhaps a bit bolstered by the fact that Mitt Romney was also a victim of the polls during this part of the 2012 presidential race. In September 2011, Rick Perry was leading the Republican primary polls; a few weeks later, Herman Cain borrowed the spotlight for a brief moment.
However, this strategy of ignoring the polls becomes exponentially harder when the person leading them, Donald Trump, happens to be the nation’s poll-obsessive-in-chief and the self-appointed sports commentator for the FiveThirtyEight set. The Republican primary front-runner’s every other word is often poll. (“I look at the polls. I can only go by the poll. A new poll came out, 32 percent. That’s the highest for anybody yet. So I can only go by the polls. The people that we’re dealing with and whatever has happened, it is what it is. You just look at results.”)
His love for polls is so strong it predates his ascension in them.
Trump especially likes commenting on the poll numbers of those doing worse than he is — including Jeb. (“Rubio’s at 19.2 and Bush is 11.3; they don’t even put me in the headline and I’m crushing it, so. You’ll all figure that out, the press is very dishonest.”) Even if Bush tries to forget how lackluster his campaign is right now, he can be sure that everyone watching the race will know about it, thanks to the commentary of the campaign’s most-watched pundit.
However, recent polls might have Trump agreeing with Bush’s stance soon. When CNN asked him why his lead had dropped in recent polls last week, Trump replied, “So, I’m a little surprised, but, you know, it’s a poll. The only poll that matters is the big one. You know that one. That’s going to be the election.”
Or as Jeb Bush would put it — along with most people watching the primary preshow — maybe all of these early polls don’t matter.