Governor Scott Walker was able to score some hits in the second Republican presidential primary debate, although one expert thinks the chances of it boosting his lagging campaign are questionable.
When he was able to speak, Marquette University political scientist Charles Franklin says Governor Walker was able to clearly communicate his position on a number of the key issues he’s campaigning on, and also addressed criticisms from other Republican candidates. However, Franklin said the governor did not get very many questions through the three hours of the debate and, as a result, ended up with the least amount of speaking time out of the 11 candidates on stage.
Franklin said that limited exposure could make it harder for Walker to count on the debate to help boost his falling poll numbers, where he’s dropped out of the top tier in the past month. “It’s hard to see how he gets a bump from last night’s performance,” Franklin said.
The debate format itself also worked against Walker. CNN moderators focused most of their questions on the current front runners, either directing them at those candidates or asking others in the crowded field to weigh in. Franklin said that created a sort of “vicious cycle,” where candidates who are lower in the polls, like Walker, had a hard time breaking in to the main discussion. “You don’t get enough time because you’ve fallen back in the polls. But then, having fallen back in the polls, you need more time.”
Despite polling at just two percent in some states now, Walker was included in the main debate because of his stronger standing during the time period used to determine who would appear on stage. However, with his numbers falling, the Republican governor now finds himself in danger of losing his place for the next debate that’s coming up at the end of October in Colorado. “He certainly needs to find a way to reverse the decline he’s seen…which really threatens to take him out of the top tier of candidates,” Franklin said.
Walker will be back on the campaign trail this weekend, with stops that include visits to South Carolina and Iowa.