Jeb Bush Leads Republican Candidates, But Needs To Connect With Rank-And-File Party Voters

Jeb Bush topped other potential U.S. presidential candidates within the Republican Party (GOP) in a CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday, but he needs to broaden his base of supporters if he hopes to clinch the GOP nomination, experts said.

The former Florida governor led the poll on 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls, beating out former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who dropped six points from last month. While the race for the White House is still more than one year away, candidates are gearing up for elections early.

While Bush is winning in the race for donors, endorsements and staffers, he needs to make gains with rank-and-file Republicans, Republican strategist Ford O'Connell told Xinhua in an interview.

"The establishment appears at this point to be consolidated behind him, but they are not sure whether his billion dollar balloon is going to bust," O'Connell said.

"Jeb has to find a way to make inroads beyond the establishment if he wants to win this nomination," he said.

 Bush's biggest challenge right now is Walker, as the latter connects well with grassroots conservatives and working class voters, O'Connell said.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at GlobalPost 

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Analysis & Political Strategy