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Thursday, September 24, 2015

What happened to Scott Walker?

Press Release, Not embargoed. For  release Sept 23, 2015, 6:00 am Central Time

Iowa State University political science professor Steffen Schmidt, who leads a first-of-its kind free online course about the Iowa Caucuses, breaks down the factors that led the early favorite in Iowa to end his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has suddenly dropped out of the GOP race to the White House.


First and most important he “peaked” too early and in a deceptive venue. It was the first political event of the 2012 race to the nomination. Sponsored by Iowa Fourth District Republican Congressman Steve King and Citizens United, the Iowa Freedom Forum was held on January 24 in Des Moines. In front of a select crowd of conservative Republicans 23 Republican notables and most of the presidential contenders at the time got lots of national buzz. At the end of the day pundits and many Republican politicians declared Walker the winner.

BUT, it was a deceptively “friendly” crowd, he had not been tested in any national event, and no one questioned his very narrow experience in The Badger State.

Second, he has been inconsistent in his positions on issues. Waffling, flip flopping, and weaseling on issues is not a very strong selling point. His most egregious uncertainty about issues was on “birthright citizenship.” Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." He flipped, flopped, and flipped again on whether children born to those in the US illegally would be covered by this principle. In reality the US Supreme Court has never ruled on whether children of illegal residents in the US are entitled to this principle.

Third, he took a fateful trip to London to sell Wisconsin cheese. Problem is he got asked if he believes in evolution and he TOTALLY punted on that. He should have said, “NO, God created the heavens and Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. If you don’t like my answer you can shove it!” So he did not gain foreign policy experience on that trip he just got dissed.

Fourth, he was "invisible" in the two GOP debates. Everyone said that the few minutes of time he had evaporated and he seemed to shrink back into the wallpaper. There was also the question of energy. He had even less than Jeb Bush.

Fifth, I asked my students in a focus group what word came to mind when they see Walker in one of his many interviews on cable. The most frequent answer was "Goofy." The second was “Walmarter.” That is not a great concept! I was surprised because earlier Gov. Walker was seen as a nice Midwesterner.

Sixth, I talked to several GOP operatives, most of them former students of mine. Their answer was that many Republicans and conservatives had parents or grandparents who were union members in the meat packing plants in Iowa. They made good salaries and were able to raise a family, buy a home, take vacations. When the unions were busted wages plunged and mostly immigrants were hired. They DO NOT LIKE Walker's union bashing, which is, of course, his “brand” as governor of Wisconsin.  By the way, his implosion was also a bad hit to the Koch brothers political organization which had heavily backed him.

Walker’s supporters claim that it’s all Donald Trump’s fault. That seems unlikely because Walker went from top of the heap to last in a spilt second. Why didn’t he go from top to second, third or fourth? See analysis above.

When he quit the race he said it showed leadership. “Today, I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the field 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 guess that’s “leading from behind.”

Enrollment is still open for Iowa State's online course about the Iowa Caucuses. Visit to learn more and enroll.

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