For many candidates seeking office, it is an advantage to be a well-known entity. But Jeb Bush faces a unique challenge in that voters often see him as a relic of the past or associate the former Florida governor with their feelings about his brother and father.
In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll
, more than half (59 percent) of Americans said they are more likely to vote for a candidate who will break from past policies, even if they are less experienced.
That presents a problem for Bush as 60 percent of all registered voters see him as representing the policies of the past and 42 percent of Republican voters share that view. Only 27 percent believe Bush offers a fresh vision for the future.
Although 49 percent of Republican voters said they would consider voting for Bush, 42 percent said they would not, a percentage much higher than those who would not consider voting for either Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (26 percent) or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (17 percent).
In addition, the percentage of voters who said they had a somewhat negative view of Bush has increased from 11 percent in May 2013 to 20 percent in the latest survey. Conversely, those who said they had a somewhat positive view has only risen two points from 17 percent to 19 percent over the same time period.
"This poll presents less than good tidings for Jeb Bush," Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates, which is one of the firms that conducted the poll, told NBC News
Voters may not be as familiar with his specific stances on current domestic and foreign policy issues as political analysts and pundits are, but their impressions are shaped by the views voters have about George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
"It would seem, then, that Bush is simply not being seen by many people as an individual in his own right; he appears to have inherited negatives that he didn't particularly earn during his tenure as governor. The obvious conclusion is that he is being viewed as an extension of his brother — though that doesn't explain why he is less popular than George W.," writes National Journal political analyst Charlie Cook
about the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll findings.
"Unquestionably, Bush is going to raise more money than any other Republican, and that gives him some advantages. But it is also clear that he faces political headwinds within his party, some related to his moderate positions on immigration and education, but some because he is somehow seen as more of a reflection of the past than Hillary Clinton is," he adds.
There is no state in which Bush needs to break from the past more than in New Hampshire, the crucial first-in-the-nation primary state that handed resounding defeats to Bush's father and brother.
Bush will make his first trip to the Granite State as an announced candidate this weekend and expectations are high.
"This is big. Very big. Like opening day of the baseball season. Jeb will get a fair judgment on who he is. Having said that, he is a brand name, and there is an expectation of how he performs," Tom Rath, a Concord lawyer and longtime Republican activist, tells Bloomberg News
Despite having been ever-present in the public eye for most of the last two decades as the first lady and then as secretary of state in the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton does not face the same challenge.
In a new Gallup poll
, Clinton is favorably viewed by 50 percent of voters, compared with 39 percent who hold a negative impression. On the other hand, 68 percent of voters are familiar with Bush, but only 35 percent have a favorable impression of him.
The poll was taken before Clinton finally addressed reporters about the current controversy surrounding her decision to conduct all official business on a personal email server.
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