Conservative Intel Poll: Jeb Bush’s Support for Puerto Rico Hurts Him in...

Conservative Intel Poll: Jeb Bush’s Support for Puerto Rico Hurts Him in Iowa

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Jeb Bush’s committed support to Puerto Rico on the issues of statehood and bankruptcy is likely to hurt and not help his electoral chances according to our poll conducted last weekend.

Conservative Intel polled Iowans likely to participate in next year’s Republican presidential caucuses with some interesting findings.

The poll asked whether respondents were more likely or less likely to support Jeb Bush for the Republican nomination due to his support for Puerto Rican statehood as the best path, reported in The Guardian. Respondents had a generally negative reaction to that position: 46% were less likely to support him, while 27% were more likely. A plurality – 28% – was somewhat less likely and 23% said it made no difference, the most common two responses, showing that Bush’s position is certainly not popular, though not necessarily toxic.

Much more off-putting is Bush’s call to extend the bankruptcy laws that apply to states and municipalities to Puerto Rico, which would allow for the restructuring of debt owed to the United States. 64% of respondents were less likely to support him and a plurality – 34% – was much less likely. This position may jeopardize Americans taxpayers’ 401ks, mutual funds and IRAs, as these are the forms in which most of Puerto Rico’s $72 billion in debt to the U.S. is held, according to a New York Times article. No wonder it is unpopular.

As reported below, Jeb is already polling worse than expected for Iowa. Since this is an issue he can expect his rivals to attack him on, it is bad news that it doesn’t play well to voters.

It is bad news in a larger sense too: Bush has staked much of his success in the Republican primary on his ability to persuade Hispanic voters – an important and growing demographic – advocating a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants considered by many to be equivalent to amnesty, as well as praising their economic importance.

As I have written elsewhere, however, the influence of the Hispanic vote is overstated, especially by a media hoping to get conservatives to change their positions. Besides, Hispanics are not as monolithic a voting bloc as liberals condescendingly assume, being somewhat divided in their views on the issues Bush has been emphasizing.

For these reasons, Bush is taking quite a risk on the trade-off that is currently costing him a lot of support from the Republican base he needs in Iowa. While he may pin some of his presidential hopes on his potential appeal to Hispanic voters, especially in the general election, if he is unable to persuade Iowa caucus-goers and other early state Republicans, it won’t matter. Right now, he is not persuading them.

Our poll asked the candidates’ images with voters, as well as which candidates they would vote for were the election today.

Bush fared badly in terms of his unfavorability rate at 34% – even more poorly than Donald Trump and he polled a surprisingly low 6.4% when voters were asked which candidates they were most likely to support. By comparison, fellow Floridian Marco Rubio also polled poorly at 4%, but his image with voters is overwhelmingly positive: 54% favorable to 13% unfavorable.

Bush’s performance in the first Republican debate last week, while not bad, was not likely to change the minds of voters who dislike him, something that he must do between now and next year.

Additionally, the poll asked whether respondents approved or disapproved of Ted Cruz’s calling Majority Leader McConnell a liar who “rammed” the Export-Import Bank reauthorization through the Senate and whether his approach made them more or less likely to support him for the Republican nomination. More than half – 51% – approved of Cruz’s approach and 63% said they were more likely to support him, 32% saying they were much more likely to.

The IVR survey was conducted July 30th-August 2nd, 2015, and has a random sample of 500.  The margin of error is +/-4.38%.