We knew that Jeb Bush’s campaign would be a great demonstration in how massive amounts of money were not an adequate predictor of success in partisan politics, but no one knew quite how spectacularly such a well-funded campaign would fail.
Now that Jeb is well out of the game, and back home considering what might have been, his final spending numbers are slowly emerging. He is, of course, more than just the victim of bad consumer choices – Jeb made the mistake of making himself Trump’s whipping boy, early on, and, it seems, assuming that someone can “legacy” their way to the nation’s highest office – but the amount Jeb spent on his campaign, to fizzle out just three primaries in, is absolutely astounding. According to one estimate, Jeb spent so much, each delegate he accrued (four, in total), cost him a whopping $32.5 million.
Jeb Bush did a lot of things wrong on the campaign trail. One thing he did right, though, was raise money – lots and lots of money.
Pro-Bush super PAC Right to Rise spent almost $81 million on TV ads extolling Bush and attacking his rivals, and the campaign and its allies spent $130 million overall in the race. All of that spending netted him four delegates out of the 1,237 needed to win the nomination, or roughly $32.5 million per delegate.
Bush did miss out on some of his brother’s more generous donors – a number of large-scale Texas donors gave, instead to Ted Cruz – but he was certainly the biggest recipient of SuperPAC cash, and that, in turn, calls into question the entire Democratic position on the need to attack Citizens United for its dastardly ability to pave the way for more money in politics. It’s even worse for Democrats if you consider that the top SuperPAC money recipient now is actually a Democrat: Hillary Clinton, thanks to the unbridled giving from Priorities USA, which netted almost $10 million for Clinton in a single month, from less than ten donors (and it’s ironic if you consider that Citizens United was actually about an organization looking to raise money to attack Hillary Clinton).
Now, of course, there are other considerations when it comes to campaign cash, not least of which is the perception that such high-dollar giving inevitably forces candidates to moderate positions for key donors, but you have to admit, there’s something to the idea, now at least, that when it comes to campaigns, money isnt everything.