Jeb Bush’s campaigns are gloating right now. Sure, Jeb Bush’s official campaign, which is limited to accepting only a few thousand dollars per donor, is doing poorly: it has raised just $11.4 million so far this year. But Jeb Bush’s shadow Super PAC campaign, with which it is in close coordination in possible violation of the law, can accept cash in unlimited amounts from just a few people. Bush’s Super PAC campaign has grabbed $103 million from its few donors. Taken together, these amounts represent the largest campaign cash grab for any candidate in the 2016 presidential race yet. On the other hand, Jeb Bush’s reliance on his Super PAC indicates that his base is narrowly limited to a very few, very rich, people — and unlike in the money race, in the primary elections very rich people still only get to vote once.
To gauge Jeb Bush’s popularity among actual people, not Swiss bank accounts, let’s turn our gaze to the social media platform Twitter, where on January 7 2015 Bush declared that people wanting to show support for his campaign should use the hashtag #righttorise. On Twitter, it takes actual people, actually using a hashtag, to make a hashtag succeed. When I last checked back in April, only a dozen people in the entire United States were using Jeb Bush’s hashtag. Let’s take another look, this time tracking use of the #RightToRise hashtag for the month of July to date:
The Bush campaign has lost control of the #RightToRise hashtag, with the vast majority of Tweets being used to promote a new album by the Detroit hard rock band Wilson. The next most popular use of #RightToRise is to make statements opposing Jeb Bush, and the third most popular use of #RightToRise in tweets is for Wilson fans to make fun of Jeb Bush for his hashtag fail. Only one post on Twitter in July has featured a pro-Bush statement made independently from the Jeb Bush campaign.
The bottom line: Jeb Bush is very popular among wallets. He is not popular among people.