Raise your hand if you had George Pataki lasting longer than Scott Walker in the Republican Primary. Anyone? Hello?
Incredibly,Walker is withdrawing from the presidential race and returning home to frigid Wisconsin, where winter is most certainly coming.
Without question, Scott Walker’s campaign for president has been the worst. He came in a favorite. He was solidly leading Iowa polls right into July, and at one point early this year he was on top of Iowa and New Hampshire polls while even squeaking out a lead in a South Carolina one. He was a favorite of both fiscal and social conservatives. He had support from the far right, he had support from the establishment, and he was a governor with a good conservative record from a state that tilted blue. He was perfect.
But then it turned out how he had no idea how to mount a national campaign. Both of his debates were terrible. Not Donald Trump terrible–which, it turns out, is still bonkers enough to grab crazy supporters–but terrible in a way that you knew he had this great conservative record but was so bad at packaging it for easy consumption. He was as wooden as he was promising. Even though he surely has a better chance at rallying than do Pataki, Lindsey Graham, and Jim Gilmore (I swear I didn’t make up that last name; he’s a real person–Wikipedia even says so!), he also has a long future in the party. He will surely attempt another presidential run, in 2024 if there is no Republican incumbent, 2028 if there is.
It feels like this development should have bigger implications than it does. A month earlier, I would have said Walker’s exit is a key step in consolidating establishment support around the likes of Bush and Rubio as they make a run at Trump and Carson. However, with Walker registering at under one percent in the last poll, there are only so many ways you divide up the tiny, stubborn minority who hadn’t already abandoned him.
That being said, he still does have a handful of points in Iowa to dole out. In fact, I’m guessing a lot more than five percent like him there, they’ve just been disappointed in his campaign and have recently voiced their support to other candidates. An endorsement from him before Iowa could go a long way in the opening caucus. We should keep an eye on that.
So two Republicans down, fifteen to go. At least we can say our next president will have a college education.
UPDATE: The above post went up before Walker’s actual speech, explaining his exit. Most notably, Walker cited the following reason:
“Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field. With this in mind, I will suspend my campaign immediately. I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same so that the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner. This is fundamentally important to the future of our party, and, more important, the future of the country.”
Whether you agree with Walker’s conservatism or not, you have to applaud this motivation. Sure, his campaign has taken a nose dive off the high board, but there’s always the chance for a late rally, especially with his excellent infrastructures in the opening primary states. However, rather than praying for a miracle while continuing to divide the support of legitimate politicians, he’s stepping back, and he wants others to follow in his retreating footsteps. “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same,” he said.
Without question, he’s trying to mask the odoriferous stench of his decayed campaign with the rosier aroma of selflessness, but it’s still a really, really good way to bow out. I suspect every single politician who eventually withdraws will also pile onto the anti-Trump train. Bush and Rubio will be the greatest benefactors of this process.