Jeb Bush’s campaign is in trouble, there’s no doubt about that.

His debate performances have been disastrous, he hasn’t generated enthusiasm, and he’s dropped to 5th place in the polling composites.

No longer will Jeb be standing on the debate stage in the center three spots next to Trump. The symbolism of Jeb almost being in John Kasich territory is significant.

But Jeb soldiers on, even as one of his big donors just called it quits over the negative tone the campaign has taken—specifically Team Jeb’s seemingly spiteful desire to take down Marco Rubio at all costs:

There’s nothing inherently wrong with oppo-research dumps. That’s why oppo-research is done. And if there is a damaging skeleton in Rubio’s closet, let’s find out now.

But in this case it smells vindictive and petty, a way to overcome Jeb’s downward spiral not by attacking the leaders in the polls — Trump and Carson — but by attacking Rubio out of spite.

Jeb was the mentor and Marco the mentee, but now the roles are reversed.

I don’t know if this constitutes a Plan, but Byron York reports on his communications with Jeb insiders as to the path forward to the nomination, Don’t laugh: The Jeb Bush victory scenario.

The scenario is that the Trump and Carson bubbles burst for reasons unrelated to Jeb, and that Rubio and Cruz then savage each other. But if that latter strategy doesn’t work, Jeb’s money will go after Rubio or Cruz, whoever is left standing:

Even after that ruinous moment in Boulder, Bush is still taking shots at Rubio, but JebWorld would clearly be happy to have Cruz take up the fight. In the careful-what-you-wish-for category, JebWorld believes Bush would do well in a one-on-one against Cruz, and the Bush super PAC will still be there to carpet-bomb the last opponent standing.

Really? That’s how you win?

I’m not naive, but this type of attitude is why we lost twice to Obama. Rather than a positive enthusiasm for a candidate, the money-people come in and carpet bomb, like they did to Newt in 2011-2012:

Mitt Romney had a strong win last night in Florida.  There’s no way to spin it otherwise, just as there was no way to spin Newt’s South Carolina win otherwise.

But at what cost?

Financially the cost was about $17 million for Romney and his SuperPAC, almost entirely on negative ads.  Of the $15 million in negative ads run by or for Romney, only one was positive,  a radio ad in Spanish run only 15 times.

Last night, Brit Hume described the win appropriately: “He beat Newt Gingrich by bombing him back into the stone age” with negative ads.

I predicted that after that carpet bombing path to victory, apathy among Republicans would be the result:

Are we any closer to a nominee?  Probably, although anything still could happen.

Are we any closer to defeating Barack Obama?  I think we are farther away than ever, as many Republicans, particularly those who joined in politics in 2009-2010, just don’t care anymore.

Unless something changes soon, apathy will be the legacy of Romney’s carpet bombing.

And I was right.

If Jeb’s only path to the nomination is to destroy any chance of a general election win, then he should do us all a favor and drop out.

[Featured Image via T. Beckett Adams Twitter]