Bush cuts campaign staff: Where the money went

Jeb Bush's presidential aspirations were dealt a blow Friday when his campaign announced 40 percent reduction in payroll expenses over the coming weeks.

The cuts were an effort to remain competitive in a race that has seen two competitors drop out in the past months and has not seen Bush top the polls since mid-July.

Bush's campaign spent near a fifth of its total operating expenses on payroll in the third quarter, according to a Big Crunch analysis of campaign filings with the Federal Elections Commission. That puts the one-time frontrunner above much of the Republican field in terms of payroll spend.

The campaign announced plans to reduce payroll costs by 40 percent, with all but the most entry-level staffers taking cuts. The campaign's Florida headquarters will also lose staff, and travel costs will be cut by 20 percent.

"We are making changes today to ensure Jeb is best positioned to win the nomination and general election," the campaign said in a statement. "We are moving resources into the states to ensure that voters in primary and caucus states are introduced to his record and vision for the future."

Payroll and associated expenses were one of the biggest budget lines for the campaign in the third quarter of 2015, far more than other GOP campaigns.

Despite Donald Trump's recent slip in the polls, Bush is still in the single digits in the early primary states, including Iowa and New Hampshire, according to averages from Real Clear Politics. Still, the campaign and the supporting super PAC, Right to Rise, have spent a combined $9.1 million on TV ads in those states, more than any other campaign. According to the campaign's statement, the money saved on overhead will go into voter contact.

"It's no secret that the contours of this race have changed from what was anticipated at the start," read the statement. "We would be less than forthcoming if we said we predicted in June that a reality television star supporting Canadian-style single-payer health care and partial-birth abortion would be leading the GOP Primary."

Read MoreEven Jeb's supporters think he'll lose

Watch CNBC's "Your Money, Your Vote: The Republican Presidential Debate" on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The debate will feature two sets of candidates discussing critical issues facing America today, including job growth, taxes and the health of our economy. Coverage begins at 5 p.m. E.T.