What Will Scott Walker Do Now? The Former GOP Candidate At Least Has Something To Go Home To
Well that makes two down. After former Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropped out of the presidential race weeks ago, everybody wondered when the next shoe would drop. And on Monday, it did: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker ended his presidential campaign, though not before lobbing a few rhetorical bombs in the direction of frontrunner Donald Trump and voicing his hope that his departure would help the GOP unify behind, well, somebody else. So with the crucible of 2016 over practically before it started, what will Walker do next?
This one has a pretty simple answer. He will head back to the Wisconsin governorship and try to pick up the pieces. In spite of this harsh disappointment, Walker's not done in Wisconsin until 2018 (unless he pulls a Sarah Palin and quits early, which is about as rare as it gets). In fact, he's probably not even done on the national stage — we could very well see him take another stab at the top job come 2020. But even if he doesn't, he could have a long political career ahead of him, for a very specific reason: Wisconsin doesn't have gubernatorial term limits. This means that Walker can stay as long as the voters of the Badger State will have him.
For what it's worth, those in-state prospects are dimmer than ever after his ill-fated presidential run. According to a poll from Marquette University last month, Walker's approval rating in Wisconsin scraped below 40 percent; the lowest of his tenure. His flagging popularity among Wisconsin voters was a well-known weakness going into his national campaign. He never quite had a great reply when asked why his own Wisconsin approval rating was lower than President Obama's. It also stymied his arguments for electability, seeing as how winning the White House while losing your residency state is very rare, having not happened in 50 years. That said, what's the argument for someone like Walker over, say, John Kasich? Kasich looks like he could easily win his state, and it's far more crucial to the outcome than Wisconsin is.
Suffice to say that the Republican Party would love to see Wisconsin go red in a presidential election sometime — something that hasn't happened since Ronald Reagan's reelection in 1984. At this point, the best chance for that to happen (while still being pretty damn unlikely) is for Walker to recommit himself to his governorship as fully as possible and somehow turn back the tide of disdain for his leadership. He doesn't have much time left if he wants to make a positive impact, though. As long as his political brand suffers so mightily in Wisconsin, those 10 electoral votes will continue to be elusive.