Scoreboard: Walker Edition

This summer, I had the same ongoing fight that I have had with pretty much everyone in every election since I have been here. My argument, in a nutshell, is that when it comes to big political races, people who are political junkies get way too mired in both horserace issues and how a pols’ positions pencil out on paper. Those things can have an impact, obviously, but a charismatic leader is a charismatic leader and someone people don’t too much like is someone people don’t like too much. And in the face of those truths, a political junkies’ arguments about gaffes-posisiton-Koch Brothers-past indiscretions-associaitons mean pretty close to diddley squat.

Which is why even though everyone keep telling me all July and August that Scott Walker was likely the man (or at least the obvious runner up) because of some combination X, Y, and Z, today’s news came as zero surprise to me.

I will say this over and over till the cows come home: People just don’t support people they don’t care for as a person, no matter how many times you tell them they will or should.

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74 thoughts on “Scoreboard: Walker Edition

  1. So what you’re saying is that Walker’s fall is bad news for Hillary ’16? :)

    And weren’t you among those pushing back when I said that Jeb wasn’t necessarily going to get the nomination?

    I think the degree to which Walker “disappointed”, it was that he didn’t even make it as far as Romney did or remotely close to it, and that’s despite having a lot less in the way of personal dislike as Romney, at least among the GOP electorate. He just managed to inspire even less loyalty than Romney. I’m personally not surprised that he make the long haul as a major candidate (especially as summer came around). I didn’t think he would drop out this early, but I also didn’t think his campaign would rack up six-figure debt either. Without that debt, I suspect he would still be limping along with the other also-rans only (assuming there is no turnaround that I wouldn’t expect).

    I will say that I never had him in the driver’s seat. I did think he was a major contender, but I assigned a degree political competence to the right-right that they simply do not possess. The battle royale could still happen, albeit between Jeb and Cruz or Rubio and Cruz… but The Mule has rendered psychohistory at least temporarily moot.


      • Bush possesses the same failings as Romney without any of the upside positives. Well, without any positives at all, seems to me. (Except, of course, that he knows foreign policy “because he’s a Bush, afterall”! Rhetorical GOLD, that was!) I don’t see him winning the primary, myself. Heck, if Carly would calm down about the Planned Parenthood nonsense she’s doubling down on I’d think she’d have a better chance than Bush and she’s been sitting at the kiddie table all this time.

        Edit: Which isn’t to say that he won’t get the nomination. Just that it’ll take sorta catastrophic failures on the other candidates part for that eventuality to materialize.


        • I don’t think Jeb’s impressive in any way, but he has the money and a fair portion of the party apparatus behind him, and he’s consistently been the strongest of the ‘establishment’ candidates. In short, he’s got all the same “positives” as Romney – establishment support and a bottomless well of money – as well as all the same negatives.

          If we rule out Trump, Carson, Fiorina et al winning the nomination (and I do) he would seem to have the best chance on that basis.


      • @stillwater

        The Jeb-Romney comparison has been made, but I think it’s off-base. Romney had advantages that Jeb doesn’t have (a lack of competition) and the advantages Jeb has over Romney (a greater degree of conviction) don’t suit him particularly well. If nothing else, Romney could say “I’m more electable than they are” somewhat convincingly, whereas Jeb can’t. If it weren’t for that other guy, Jeb would be the most perplexingly wrong candidate in a really long time.

        Jeb might win. Not because of Romney, but because of McCain. This is shaping up more like 2008 than 2012. Eerily so, to be honest*. McCain won because at the end of the day somebody had to. If Jeb wins the nod, that will be how.

        That’s not to say that it will turn out like 2008… but the script is written if the producers want to go with it.

        * – It’s almost person-to-person. Jeb as McCain, Trump as Rudy, Rubio as Mitt, Cruz as Huckabee, and Fiorina/Carson as Thompson.


  2. I’m definitely surprised that he did not turn out to be an effective candidate, but not that much surprised after seeing him in action.

    I will say that the words “like” and “dislike” are a little to ambiguous for my taste though. My go-to example is Joe Lieberman. Joe Lieberman is someone whom I mostly agree with policy-wise, and who may well be an interesting person to hang out with, someone I could “like” on a personal level. (I’m notoriously agreeable)

    However, it was my contention in the early Oughts that Lieberman would never be president, because his voice was not up to snuff. People will not want to listen to that voice on the radio and television for four years.

    I think Walker’s failure was not exactly the same, but similar. He’s just not someone people wanted to listen to for four years. That says nothing about whether they “like” him on a personal level. I don’t have to like people on a personal level. In some sense, I didn’t “like” Bill Clinton that way, but I voted for him twice, because I liked his policies and thought he’d be effective as a president, and because I didn’t think he’d nominate a loser like Clarence Thomas to the SCOTUS.

    I think there are people out there who don’t like Hillary and will say that her voice bothers them. That’s their preference and they are welcome to it. Nevertheless, speaking as someone who’s done, and listened to a lot of singing and speaking, I’d have to say she has a good sound, good support, and a nice rhythm. (So does Donald Trump, actually).

    Voice isn’t Scott Walker’s problem, which I understand to be demeanor. He has that Midwest understated thing going. (I’m married to a Minnesotan, I’ve seen a lot of it in action.) This evidently does not match the mood of the Republican primary electorate, who is looking for a lot more zing. That, to me, is the message behind the early (and now beginning to fade, it seems) popularity of Trump. At another time, in another place, that might have gone over really well, but not now.


  3. When do you think the serious journalists will stop including a variation of the line “of course Trump won’t win the eventual nomination” in every political article?


    • When they see him as someone who could win the nomination. I wouldn’t expect that until November or December. Though we’re starting to see a little of it now. But not much, because history is history and “this time is different!” so rarely pans out. Even that recent high-profile (NYT?) article saying that he has a chance had difficulty making the case that he actually had a chance.

      So… November/December.


    • Dunno who Mark Levin is. But I note that he isn’t president. Niche entertainers can carry all kinds of idiosyncrasies, just like Senators. Because niches are all about what people like, not what they dislike.

      [Arghh, this is supposed to be a reply to a different comment, by@mikeschilling. Sorry]


    • I wish that “serious journalists” would focus on Trump less. If anyone wants me to take his chances of the nomination seriously, I want them to first write me multi-page analyses of the Giuliani, Gingrich, and Fred Thompson general election campaigns against Barack Obama. Because those guys were all leading in the polls a year before the presidential election, so obviously they won the party nomination.

      If Trump’s still in the lead come January, I’ll start taking his candidacy seriously.


        • The major news media across the board, who are giving Trump a lot more attention than he merits because what they love is drama and spectacle, and Trump’s good at delivering both. Talking about whatever crazy thing he’s done most recently is just more interesting to the press – or more likely to attract viewers – than talking about policy.

          To the extent that politcal horserace coverage is warranted at all, it’s not worth spending any time or coverage on until January when the primary starts. 2007 and 2011 are enough to show that. Yet the press talk about it incessantly.


  4. The set of skills required to be an effective administrator/executive and the set of skills required to be a good presidential candidate do not overlap overly much.

    I considered whether they were orthogonal to each other… and, yeah, there are a hell of a lot that are, but there is more than zero overlap of the two sets.

    But the amount greater than zero is not yuuuuge.


      • I dunno. Wisconsin has a homogeneity that doesn’t necessarily map well to the rest of the country.

        There are some tics that people in Wisconsin might not mind (or notice) that become glaring and weird the second you step on a national stage.


        • Wisconsin has about half as many African Americans and Hispanics than the national average on a percentage basis, but it’s no Vermont. The state median household and per capita income is right at the national average. Everyone thought Russ Feingold was perfectly croumulent as a national leader on his pet issues.

          Most importantly, a state that can both elect Walker and Feingold has a competitive political system, both intraparty and interparty, compared to, say, either Texas or New York.


          • I had moved away from WI by the time Walker came to the fore, but my best guess as to how he made it was less his attractiveness as a candidate or more as a big F-U reaction to Jim Doyle along with some hope that he’d be another Tommy Thompson.

            Past that, IMHO the only reason he’s lasted is because a lot of borderline voters got well & truly pissed at the recall attempt (& Mary Burke was a pretty lackluster candidate). I’m hoping my home state remembers their progressive streak & unloads him next go around.


      • Rubio is the best bet for the Republicans I think. He isn’t associated with George W. like Jeb is, he is young and good-looking compared to other candidates, and doesn’t say xenophobic things outside the current zeitgeist among younger voters and won’t piss off Hispanics that much.


        • I’m at the point that unless he is somehow disqualified, or Kasich takes off, if the GOP nominates anyone but Rubio they’re just not ready to win yet. Not that Rubio would or wouldn’t, but it seems like a Dole/Alexander sort of situation.


          • I concur that Rubio represents the greatest threat though I’m still feeling relatively calm about his prospects for success. Jeb! is soaking up most of the establishment oomph and the various right wing suspects are gobbling up the passion. Can Rubio survive not winning any of the first three states? Jeb! probably could but I dunno if Rubio has those kinds of resources.

            I’m hoping for a Jeb! victory through raw attrition though a Trump victory would suit me just fine as well.


      • Christie might also benefit. Not that it will get the latter two very far.

        Christie, in my opinion, ain’ta goin nowhere. UnitedCEOGate!(!!) is a dagger, but there’s more daggers (in the form of indictments) comin down the pike. He’s dead toast walking, seems to me.


    • Based on Walker’s exit, I think Rubio’s chances are looking better than ever. Jeb just needs to lose/get out before the primary season gets too deep, and Rubio is the last competent man standing.


      • Seems to me that if Rubio is patient and careful, he’s gonna start riding some serious Marcomentum!, enough to make him at least a player, and maybe get him to the point where it’s his nomination to lose.

        Jeb, on the other hand, strikes me as incapable of winning the election, but maybe, just barely, having enough chops to be the beneficiary of other folks’ losing.


        • Pity that over half the GOP primary seems to prefer crazy. Last I checked (and maybe it changed) the “Trump/Carson/Next Crazy in Line” numbers were above 50%.

          Which means that for the establishment guy to get through, one of the following has to happen:

          1) All the crazies become SO crazy the crazy-loving voters have no one left to vote for. (This was 2012, basically).
          2) Establishment guy becomes crazy.
          3) Crazy-preferring people stop preferring crazy.

          Pretty sure 3 ain’t gonna happen. I suspect it’ll be a mixture of 1 and 2.


        • Marco has said from the start that he’s playing the long game, not worrying about the latest poll, etc. A lot of them say that, of course but he’s actually been doing it thus far. In the last earnings/spending report he still had a remarkable percentage of his money, didn’t do early and buys like Kasich, and has bit been anxious to pounce on either side of headlines (to my frustration in a couple cases).

          A few weeks ago this seemed like a bad strategy. Today it seems like a good one. By January, who knows?


  5. I dunno. Hard to campaign effectively when someone keeps grabbing the mike. I don’t think Walker said more than two dozen words in every debate appearance so far, and whatever public statements he made were ignored because zomg look at this RIDONKULOUS thing that Trump said!!!

    There’s a nasty conspiracy theory in the 2015 Republican slate, although it’s rather less plausible than most because Trump doesn’t exactly need money.


  6. Walker’s problem was that he wasn’t ready for prime time. He might do well in Wisconsin suburban and ex-urban voters on an “big scary Milwaukee” plank in off year elections but he wasn’t ready to appeal to a wider audience even among Republicans on a national scale. Another weakness was that Trump usurped the role that Walker was going to play, the rightist populist.


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  8. We should open a “dead pool”.


    I assume the remainder aren’t players and don’t really count. Arguably, you could make the case that some of these are already “out”, like Huckabee or Santorum, but won’t actually withdraw regardless because they’re not actually in the race for the nomination.

    Off that list I say that Jindal is next.


    • Jindal was my prediction before Walker bowed out. I think I was looking at it wrong. Pay no attention to polls. Rather, pay attention to non-PAC money on hand. Both Walker and Perry had problems there because both were running like top tier candidates while Gilmore can stay in for a while because he’s not spending much.


      • Here is Sean Trende, saying something else that has kind of been on my mind:
        In 1979, Sen. Lowell Weicker dropped out before October. In 1987, former Sen. Paul Laxalt gave up on his race. In 1995, Gov. Pete Wilson exited early. In 1999, former Gov. Lamar Alexander, Rep. John Kasich, and former Vice President Dan Quayle had all left the race by now. In 2007, former Govs. Tommy Thompson and Jim Gilmore were out, while Rep. Thad McCotter and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty quit by early fall of 2011.

        The key point is that the early dropouts have never been the extremists, the single-issue candidates, or the “joke” candidates. Those candidates tended to stick around through actual voting. The candidates who exit early tend to be capable candidates, if a bit past their prime in many cases, who were able to read the writing on the wall. So it shouldn’t surprise us too much when a candidate like Rick Perry or even Scott Walker drops out; they are just the latest “Lamar!” or “T-Paw” to disappoint as candidates.


    • Probably. If not, maybe Paul.

      Which, by the way:

      Walker-shmalker. I say the biggest victim to Trumpmetum is Paul, who likely assumed — even though he couldn’t win the nomination — would be an ongoing story for about a year in the way a Paul is an ongoing story for about a year every presidential election. Instead, no one has said word one about him in it seems like forever.


      • Yeah, I’d agree with this.

        To the detriment of our political dialogue, too. I’m nowhere near libertarian-land, but Paul’s harping on the national security state and our over-reliance on the War Bag Of Tricks in foreign policy was a nice contribution to the GOP debate talking point schedule.

        Feels weird to be getting that from Bernie. It points to how hawkish the perception of Hilary actually is.


      • Yeah. The benefit of Paul was not the benefit of having a snowball’s chance in heck of getting to the nomination, but the benefit of having him on the stage crankily askyelling “what about the 4th Amendment?” (or whatever).

        Making the candidates publicly acknowledge such things and mouth platitudes to the Constitution God prior to their trip to the nomination would have been a good thing, I reckon.


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