Governor Scott Walker will have some relationships to repair, after his quest to win the Republican nomination came to an unexpected end on Monday.
The governor spent much of the year on the campaign trail, as he explored, and then eventually declared, his presidential bid. He’s drawn criticism as well for not being present during much of the debate over the state budget and for comments he made about sometimes being at odds with Republican leadership in the Legislature. Walker also suffered a hit in his statewide support, with a Marquette University Law School poll released in August showing him with just a 39 percent approval rating.
Poll director Charles Franklin said the governor has some “fences to mend” here in the state, as he shifts his focus away from the campaign. He still has more than three years left in his term, although Franklin added “whether the damage has been temporary or permanent, we’ll have to see.”
Franklin said any political recovery will take some time and some effort from Walker, along with voters being willing to come back and support him.
As for the factors leading up to the end of Walker’s presidential hopes, Franklin said the news Monday caught many people off guard. While Walker had been steadily falling in the polls, he says most observers though the governor had enough money to hang on until at least the Iowa Caucuses in February. That turned out not to be the case though, with reports circulating in recent days that his campaign was in financial trouble.
Walker did have a super PAC backing his campaign that raised over $20 million last spring. However, that money could not be used to pay for campaign staff expenses, which can increase quickly as a campaign grows. Franklin noted previous candidates have managed to survive with bad poll numbers, but he expects Walker ran in to a “financial crisis” when he started to lose donors and could no longer support the staff he brought in earlier in the campaign.
Overall, Franklin sees the end of the campaign as a “remarkably short collapse” for someone who had been considered a top tier candidate just earlier this year. “Just from the beginning of July until now, he dropped from second place in the teens to literally an asterisk at less than one percent in the polling.”