So far, this campaign has not really been about policy. It’s been all about personalities. The bigger issue is that governors are also no longer seen as outsiders. They’ve made compromises, and it is very difficult to stay ideologically pure when you’re leading a state. For example: From a conservative perspective, Walker had a very impressive record of achievements, aided by GOP majorities in both chambers of his state legislature. But many big donors, including the Koch brothers, zeroed in on his support for offering taxpayer help to build a new sports stadium, which Walker did to keep the Milwaukee Bucks from leaving town. That’s part of a governor’s job. But, in this climate, it is apostasy.
For all the railing against Washington, D.C., it’s now perfectly reasonable for a senator to portray him or herself as an outsider since congressional leaders have less ability to corral their members into staying in line. Candidates like Sanders and Cruz can credibly argue that they’re consummate “outsiders,” since they draw their power from funding streams independent from the party structure and don’t answer to any corrupt, pot-bellied establishment fat cats on the Hill. More obviously -- on the Republican side, at least -- is that certain candidates have upped the ante in terms of what constitutes an outsider. Donald Trump and Ben Carson are pure political outsiders, in that this is their first time running for office, and they seem to only get stronger by saying ludicrous things that they can spin as “outside-the-box.” Next to Trump and Carson, Walker and Perry looked less like outsiders and more like standard politicians.