Case study The Republican Invisible Primary 2015

“If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong,” Larry Sabato, head of the center for politics at the University of Virginia

The invisible primary exposed the emptiness of Jeb Bush's campaign- He lacked charisma and relied on name recognition. Bush departed after the third primary contest in South Carolina. Starting as a favourite to win, with name recognition, strong connections and a huge fundraising machine (in the first half of 2015 the Bush campaign raised a record-breaking $114 million, with Hillary Clinton being a distant second at $69 million and other Republican rivals well below that)

In 2015 the Republican invisible primaries contained a record number of candidates who had declared their intention to run. This included seven televised debates between the candidates before the first votes were cast in Iowa. With 17 candidates the invisible primaries played an important role in narrowing the field with two governors, Rick Perry and Scott Walker, being forced to drop out. Walker, a one-time front-runner, announced his departure from the race in September 2015. His campaign team blamed a lack of media focus on his bid as well as a lack of funding.

. Bush was eclipsed in terms of media focus and popularity with the entrance of Donald Trump into the race in June 2015, relatively late. With few commentators giving Trump any serious chance of winning, the Republican outsider soon took the lead in the polls at the same time that Bush experienced a serious decline in support.