Despite being a favorite of the U.S. Republican Party establishment and a presumed top-tier candidate at the start of the race, Jeb Bush continues to struggle to gain momentum in the presidential campaign, even as the voting season quickly approaches.
Bush's troubles were underscored this past week with the release of a new CNN/ORC poll, which suggested the former Florida governor now has the support of an astoundingly low 3 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning independents nationwide.
The results were not a huge surprise. Bush, whose brother and father were both presidents, has failed to meet expectations from the very start, and has for months been stuck in the mid-single digits in most recent nationwide polls.
FILE - Republican presidential candidate, former Florida governor Jeb Bush, speaks to the media during a campaign stop, Nov. 17, 2015, in Florence, South Carolina.
With just eight weeks left until the Iowa caucuses – the crucial, first nominating event of the campaign season – the poll highlights just how far Bush has to go to stage an unlikely comeback.
There appear to be several reasons for Bush's struggles.
Early in the campaign, Bush delivered several lackluster debate performances and suffered a series of embarrassing gaffes. He also is particularly vulnerable to a perceived public backlash against establishment candidates.
His brother, ex-President George W. Bush, left office in 2009 with one of the lowest ever approval ratings for a U.S. president.
Jeb's campaign often tries to distance itself from the record of his brother, who has not been a presence at campaign events.
FILE - Republican presidential candidates John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina and Rand Paul take the stage before the Republican presidential debate at the Milwaukee Theatre, Nov. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee.
Instead, Bush's team has tried several other strategies to reinvigorate the campaign, including attacking his Republican rivals, becoming more assertive in media interviews and spending tens of millions of dollars in TV ads.
So far, none of the tactics has reversed his decline in the polls.
Hoping on comeback
His campaign shrugs off the poor polling performance, hopeful there is enough time to gain ground, especially once current front-runner Donald Trump eventually loses support, as many analysts have predicted.
Bush's chances are also bolstered by a wealthy base of Republican donors leaving him with one of the best-funded campaigns, in addition to an impressive network of staff in many early voting states.
But all that will mean nothing if he cannot soon reverse his standing in the polls.