Scott Walker and the 'home-state haters' problem

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gestures while speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 26, 2015. (Photo by Cliff Owen/AP)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gestures while speaking during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Md. on Feb. 26, 2015.
As he makes the case for his national candidacy, Gov. Scott Walker (R) frequently touts his success in his blue-ish home state. When it comes to presidential elections, Wisconsin is considered a key battleground, but it has voted Democratic in seven of the last seven races, including two easy wins for President Obama. And yet, as Walker is eager to remind folks, he's also won twice -- three times if we count the recall election.
The point is obvious: the Republican governor has demonstrated an ability to appeal to voters in a state that leans in Democrats' direction. That's the kind of quality that should matter, the argument goes, as GOP voters weigh their 2016 choices.
The problem with the pitch, though, is that Wisconsin doesn't seem too keen on Walker's White House bid.

Gov. Scott Walker may be soaring in national presidential polls, but his job performance rating in Wisconsin has dropped to its lowest point since the 2011 protests, according to the latest Wisconsin poll from Public Policy Polling. [...] Those who say they approve of the job Walker is doing fell to 43 percent, while those who disapprove increased to 52 percent. In late October, the same Democratic-leaning poll found 49 percent approved of Walker's job performance, while 47 percent disapproved.

In a hypothetical general election match-up against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the poll shows Walker trailing in his own state by nine points.
This is obviously just one poll, and the governor hasn't even formally announced his presidential campaign just yet, but at this point, the governor has been in office for over four years -- he was just re-elected last fall -- and the fact that his constituents aren't exactly rallying behind his national ambitions has to be a little discouraging.
But what I find especially interesting is how increasingly common this is among the other Republican presidential candidates. It doesn't look great for Walker that his own state's voters are skeptical about his White House campaign, but he can take some comfort in the fact that so many of his GOP rivals are in the exact same boat.
In New Jersey, for example, Gov. Chris Christie's (R) approval rating isn't just dropping; Garden State voters seem to believe his presidential bid is a bad idea. In a match-up against Clinton, polls show the Republican governor trailing the likely Democratic candidate badly.
Things aren't much better for the Floridians in the field. A recent Mason-Dixon poll found that only 15% of Florida voters want Sen. Marco Rubio (R) to pursue the presidency this year. For former Gov. Jeb Bush (R), 42% of Floridians believe he should run for the White House, which is better than Rubio, but short of a majority.
A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in decent shape among his Republican constituents, but the same poll found former Gov. Rick Perry (R) running a distant fifth in the state he led for over a decade. In fact, the governor was in single digits among GOP voters in his own state.
Politico recently called it the problem of the "home-state haters," which is remarkably wide spread. Louisianans aren't on board with Bobby Jindal's presidential campaign; Pennsylvanians aren't backing Rick Santorum's latest White House run; and South Carolinians clearly don't think much of Lindsey Graham's national ambitions.
Several years ago the Washington Post's Aaron Blake suggest home-state skepticism is routine for presidential hopefuls and that's "true everywhere." I get the familiarity-breeds-contempt thesis, but I'm still not sure that's right.
As longtime readers may recall, Illinois voters were awfully fond of Barack Obama in 2008; Texans were very enthusiastic about George W. Bush in 2000; and Arkansas strongly supported Bill Clinton in 1992. In fact, candidates rejected by their own constituents -- Mitt Romney in Massachusetts and Al Gore in Tennessee, for example -- tend not to do particularly well.
It is, of course, early in the process and the likely candidates still have time to win over their neighbors. But as we talked about a month ago, the fact that so many Republican presidential hopefuls have so little support from their own constituents is an inauspicious sign.