In this July 14, 2015 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, speaks during a campaign event in Las Vegas.
Photo by John Locher/AP

Walker struggles to win over his own constituents

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Republican presidential campaign isn’t quite where it wanted to be at this point in the process. The far-right governor entered the race as a top-tier contender, a credible choice for the GOP nomination, and a clear favorite to win the Iowa caucuses.
But as August nears its end, Walker’s standing isn’t nearly as strong as many expected and his once-dominant position in Iowa has slipped, thanks largely to a certain New York real-estate developer.
Walker could really use some good news. Yesterday, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, he received the opposite.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker still leads the GOP presidential primary field in his home state, but his job approval level has dipped and he trails Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in a head-to-head matchup here, a new poll from the Marquette University Law School shows.
So far, Walker’s presidential run is proving no gift to his standing at home.
The Marquette poll, generally considered the best source for Wisconsin surveys, is a bit of a disaster for Walker. It shows, for example, the governor’s approval rating dipping to 39% less than a year after his successful re-election campaign. He leads the GOP’s 2016 field, but only 25% of Wisconsin Republicans – a group that should arguably represent Walker’s ardent base – choose their own governor as their preferred presidential candidate.
All of which leads us to the gut-punch: in a head-to-head match-up against Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, Scott Walker trails by double digits – 52% to 42% – in his own state. A PPP poll released in the spring showed Walker trailing Clinton in Wisconsin by nine points, suggesting things aren’t getting any better for the governor among the voters who know him best.
As if that weren’t quite enough, the Marquette poll shows Jeb Bush more competitive against Clinton – again, in Wisconsin – than Walker (Bush only trails by five).
It creates an awkward dynamic for Walker and his national campaign. If a GOP voter asks, “Why should I vote you if you’re losing in your own state?” there’s no easy answer to the question.
To be sure, the Wisconsin governor isn’t the only Republican candidate struggling in his home state. Chris Christie is woefully unpopular in New Jersey; Rick Perry has little support in Texas; and in Louisiana, Bobby Jindal is by some measure the least liked governor in the United States.
But with all due respect to Christie, Perry, and Jindal, Scott Walker is widely seen as a far more competitive candidate for national office. Christie, Perry, and Jindal are longshots; Walker is a plausible nominee.
Which makes his poor standing in Wisconsin that much more problematic. After five years of Walker’s leadership, the state’s voters don’t seem to think he deserves a promotion.
It’s not a good sign. In 1992, Arkansans were enthusiastic about Bill Clinton’s candidacy; in 2000, Texans eagerly rallied behind George W. Bush’s White House bid; and in 2008, voters in Illinois were enthralled by Barack Obama’s national campaign. When candidates are rejected by their own constituents, they tend not to do especially well.
Just ask Mitt Romney and Al Gore.