Jeb Bush’s Brand Problem

Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, during a keynote session at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2014 in San Francisco.

Photograph by David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton, former U.S. secretary of state, during a keynote session at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit 2014 in San Francisco.

Big names are good for big numbers in early polling — usually.

Ask Hillary Clinton, the prohibitive front-runner for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination without even declaring her intentions to run. She has the sort of public name identification that money can’t buy, and that generally tips the scales in polling on races more than two years away.

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who has the name ID that comes with a father and brother both serving as president of the United States, isn’t getting the same boost in that polling.

In this way-too-early test of the Bush and Clinton names, a poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows:

– 32 percent of potential voters view Bush unfavorably, 21 percent favorably. While 32 percent are neutral on this question, only 15 percent say they are unsure or don’t know.

– 48 percent view Clinton favorably, 32 percent unfavorably. Only 19 percent are neutral, 1 percent unsure.

NBC notes that Bush’s standing on this question is worse than it was a year ago.

In the meantime, he has spoken out on the need for immigration reform, and most recently called the instinct of undocumented immigrants to cross the border for the good of their families “an act of love.” And the poll shows him faring better among more moderate Republicans than he is among the Tea Party crowd less likely to alight to that talk about compassion for the undocumented.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll shows other Republicans holding slight edges — though statistically a tie — over Bush. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is the favorite among registered voters leaning Republican, with 15 percent support. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee claims 14 percent, Bush 12 percent.

Matching what ABC calls the “two marquee names” in this field — Clinton vs. Bush — the Democrat claims the support of 53 percent of registered voters, the Republican 41 percent. This is the same margin by which Clinton led Bush in a January ABC/Post poll.

“Notably, Clinton leads Bush by 23 percentage points among women, 59-36 percent, while men divide closely between the two,” ABC reports. “Clinton also has a 63-34 percent advantage among adults younger than 30 – a key support group for Barack Obama in his two presidential elections – and a vast 54-point lead among nonwhites, 74-20 percent.”

Two-thirds of those surveyed by ABC and the Post last month said they’d at least consider Clinton for the presidency, while just 44 percent said so of Bush and 48 percent ruled him out.

Bush, who has said he’ll make a decision by the end of the year, allows that he is “thinking about” running for president in 2016. The polls provide some fodder for thought, perhaps. A longtime political adviser for Bush notes that’s not all he’s thinking about:

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