Bush Down 4 Points in Hypothetical Match Up Against Nelson
Putting the lie to common wisdom, the latest poll has Sen. Bill Nelson defeating Gov. Jeb Bush (see photo) in a hypothetical matchup.
The difference - 48 Nelson/44 Bush - is within the margin of error of less than 3 points, but the last poll done by the same firm back in November apparently gave Bush a 5 point advantage. This is not to say that Nelson would definitely win and that Bush would definitely lose (in fact, any honest pollster will tell you that the purpose of a poll is not to predict "victory" or "defeat," but to provide signposts and mile markers on the road to one or the other). This suggests that Nelson is steadily rising and that "Bush fatigue" is having an influence.
Jeb Bush himself is still very popular and if were he able to run for a third term, would probably win. But people are not ready to see the Bush dynasty continue into the Senate. This probably has as much to do with President George Bush as it does with Gov. Jeb Bush, but is also shows that Jeb was wise not to jump into the race against Nelson last year - winning a Senate race against a popular Democratic incumbent (which would be the story if he were to run and win) would not help his presidential aspirations nearly as much as losing to a vulnerable Democratic incumbent (which would be the story if Jeb were to run and lose) would damage them.
This poll should also stop the chattering about Jeb making a surprise run for president in 2008. If his own state is not eager to see him take another public office immediately, there is no reason to think the nation as a whole would want him to immediately succeed his brother in the White House.
Look for Gov. Bush to use his Foundation for Florida's Future to keep himself in the public eye and to maintain and expand his state and national donor base.