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Jeb Bush's Matt Drudge problem and why he ticks off so many conservatives

Jeb Bush has a serious Matt Drudge problem, and that points to a more fundamental electoral problem.

Among the most prominent DrudgeReport.com headlines Thursday evening: POLL: 54% WANT FRESH FACES IN '16....NH voters pan Bush...Jeb Still Refuses to Rule Out Tax Hikes...

The prior Friday, during his New Hampshire debut as a likely 2016 presidential candidate, much of the mainstream media was gushing over Bush's substance, his accessibility and his refusal to pander to the right on issues like immigration reform. But Drudge offered these headlines: RUBIO ON RISE...JEB STRUGGLES FROM WITHIN...Says his view on immigration is 'grown-up plan'...WALKER: 'WE NEED NAME FROM FUTURE, NOT PAST'...

Drudge, a Miami resident and registered independent voter, does not pick the Republican nominee, of course, although he was consistently kind to Mitt Romney in 2012. However, his immensely popular website helps shape the conversation among Republican activists and reporters covering the race.

Combined with the nearly universal skepticism or outright hostility to Bush from other Republican-leaning media outlets from the Weekly Standard to Rush Limbaugh and Hotair.com, Drudge's Bush treatment underscores a significant obstacle to the former Florida governor with the potential to grow even bigger.

"As long as the field stays very divided against him, he will be able to overcome it as (John) McCain did in 2008 and Romney in 2012. If, however, the field shrinks, then it becomes a problem because the criticism gets more easily amplified," said Erick Erickson, the influential editor of RedState.com, one of the few conservative outlets that has given Bush relatively balanced coverage.

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