By all accounts, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin was the Republican front runner in the presidential campaign in July. In the primary phase in Iowa he was a front runner and much loved by the conservative base as well as donors. He won quite a few important battles against unions in his home state. Unfortunately, his poor performances in debates didn’t help his cause – donor funding dropped precipitously. The numbers speak for themselves too – democratic front runner Hillary Clinton led Scott Walker 52% – 40%. His approval ratings are at an all-time low in his home state – 41% and are a significant drop compared to 49% and his re-election to office.
Why Mr. Walker is in trouble
Many registered voters are unhappy with his performance and this number stands at 56% currently. One reason was that his proposal to cut close to $500 million from the K – 12 school budget and also the UW system. Over 70% of those polled oppose any form of school cuts and hope to get the money restored to the budget.
These were not the only reasons for the drop in approval ratings – residents were concerned about things like the depressed job market, direction of the state, budget proposals and most importantly, unavailability to govern the state. Increased travel due to his presidential bid meant that Mr. Walker wasn’t available to defend the state budget and his stand on various issues. The drop in ratings came largely due to the Republican disapproval. Other interesting facts that came to light from polling results are:
- 66% of Republicans would like him to run for President
- 54% of respondents oppose lifting a cap of 1000 students for private school vouchers
- 48% are not in favor of his plan to take away funding for testing on Common Core Standards for subjects such as language and math
- 44% oppose making senior citizens who use the Senior Care drug program use Medicare
All said, his bid for president didn’t go as well as expected and he announced his plans to drop out of the race on September 21st. The exit was not a sacrifice – he was low on funds, losing ground in opinion polls, and also losing potential donors thanks to a number of gaffes. While talking about his reasons for quitting the race, he also exhorted other Republican candidates to do the same so that the best candidate could win.
Scott Walker’s exit may not have much of an impact considering the number of candidates in the field. One thing that is very evident from the failure of his campaign is that candidates are under a lot of pressure to raise phenomenal amounts of money not just to keep going but also to fund their Super PACs. The need for lots of money to run a campaign has turned the fight for state nominations into national contests. Candidates have to tailor their message to suit the conservative voter base in each state which makes it difficult to have a uniform message. One other hurdle that he faced was that he didn’t connect with his audience while appearing on TV. That is a major handicap for anyone running for office.