Fact Sheet

Jeb Bush: Divider, Not Uniter

Despite how he spins it, Gov. Bush’s policies would divide and hurt Americans.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) announced his candidacy to be the third Bush president last week, nearly 10 years after the end of his two terms as governor and following a major staff shakeup. During and since his time in Tallahassee, Gov. Bush has worked to cultivate an image of himself as a leader whose appeal extends beyond the typical conservative base to the emerging demographic groups that are prevalent in his state, such as Hispanics. Although he will attempt to cast himself as a conservative during the election, he likely will tout his work across party lines on education, his attempts to be moderate on immigration, and his pledge to fight inequality.

Gov. Bush’s record and positions, however—including during his time leading the state of Florida—paint a starkly different picture. His tenure was marked by decreased access to public four-year colleges for African American Floridians, and young people of color bore the brunt of his extreme “Stand Your Ground” law. Recently, Gov. Bush said he opposes executive action to fix the broken immigration system, even as movement stalls in Congress and he campaigns to be the country’s next executive. The current deferred action programs will inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy and create jobs, not to mention the beneficial community effects they will bring to 5 million immigrants and their families.

In advance of Gov. Bush’s announcement, the Center for American Progress Action Fund analyzed the impact of three of his actions and positions and how they would affect the country.

Affirmative action

  • After Gov. Bush repealed affirmative action for public higher education institutions in Florida, African American enrollment at Florida universities fell from 15.7 percent in 2000 to 14 percent in 2013—a 10.9 percent decrease.
  • In contrast, African American enrollment rates at public universities increased from 10.4 percent to 10.8 percent nationwide over the same time period. This is a 3.5 percent increase.
  • If national black enrollment decreased at the same rate as in Florida, 13.9 percent fewer black students would have been enrolled in public universities in 2013—a total of 85,726 fewer black students nationwide. That is five times more than the number of African American students in all California public universities combined.


  • Gov. Bush, who previously indicated support for immigration reform, so strongly opposes President Barack Obama’s executive action that he compared President Obama to a “Latin American dictator.”
  • A Center for American Progress analysis shows that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program; the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, program; and the subsequent expansion of the DACA program will grow the U.S. economy by $230 billion over 10 years.
  • Nearly $10 billion of that gross domestic product growth will occur in Florida, as the programs could help nearly 230,000 immigrants come out of the shadows, work legally, and pay taxes.

Stand Your Ground

  • Gov. Bush signed the state’s Stand Your Ground provision into law in 2005, the first of its kind in the nation.
  • A 2012 Tampa Bay Times study of Stand Your Ground cases in Florida found that defendants who invoked the law to justify a homicide were more likely to be successful if they killed a black person: 73 percent of perpetrators who killed a black victim faced no penalty, compared with 59 percent of perpetrators who killed a white victim.
  • This means that defendants were 24 percent more likely to win a case if they killed a black person than if they killed a white person.
  • Florida’s law paved the way for other states to adopt similar Stand Your Ground laws, which researchers estimate have resulted in an 8 percent increase in homicides in adopting states—or an additional 600 homicides in the nation per year.

Charles Posner is the Policy Manager in the ThinkProgress War Room at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Anna Chu is the Vice President of Policy and Research at CAP Action.

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Charles Posner

Policy Manager

Anna Chu

Vice President, Policy and Research