Sept. 23, 2015 — The rise and fall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ultimately proved meteoric in both directions. After rising to the top of the Republican presidential heap earlier in the year, the nominal former front-runner yesterday departed the presidential race.
His decline, largely at the hands of current GOP front-runner Donald Trump, was as far and fast as his original ascension. All recent polls positioned him dropping to three percent or below, about 1/6th the size of his original support base, but the latest CNN/ORC survey (Sept. 17-19; 924 national registered voters; 444 likely Republican primary voters) portended rock bottom. The CNN study revealed that Walker failed to even record a percentage point.
How does Walker leaving the race affect the remaining candidates? If he has his way, others would follow his lead exiting the contest in order to allow those with the true ability to overtake Trump and unify the conservative movement the opportunity to do so.
Walker’s mistakes did not occur on the actual campaign trail. Rather, they were strategic and administrative in nature. Waiting too long to officially enter the race, failing to stand out at the debates, and spending too much money on staff overhead proved to be his downfall even though he uttered only minor public gaffes.
Since his previous support had already been dispersed to Trump and the remainder of the Republican candidate field, Walker exiting the race will not greatly affect the current standings. A possible winner from the decision to leave could be Ohio Gov. John Kasich, since he and Walker are both Great Lakes governors with similar records on spending and labor union issues.
Harper Polling just completed a new poll of the Pennsylvania Senate race (Sept. 9-10; 700 registered Pennsylvania voters). The results again find Sen. Pat Toomey (R) with a healthy lead over former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Delaware County), 47-37 percent. His lead expands if former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty were to win the Democratic nomination. The senator would top McGinty 48-34 percent, if the election were in the current time frame.
But the more interesting part of this campaign resides in the Democratic primary. As you may remember, many national and state party leaders have expressed public dissatisfaction with Sestak as their 2016 nominee, despite him holding Toomey to just a 51-49 percent win in the Republican landslide year of 2010. Recruiting McGinty into the race, Democratic stalwarts such as former Pennsylvania governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Ed Rendell (D) and Rep. Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia) believe she is the better team player and would match-up in superior fashion with the first term incumbent.
Pennsylvania tends to vote Democratic in presidential elections –- George H.W. Bush in 1988 was the last Republican national candidate to carry the state –- therefore, the Keystone State should factor heavily in the national Democratic political strategy for both the presidential and US Senate campaigns. But, so far, Sen. Toomey’s numbers continue to hold.
The incumbent’s favorability index is 49:38 percent positive to negative. By contrast, ex-Rep. Sestak finds himself dropping into upside-down territory, 31:34 percent, but so does McGinty, at 25:30 percent favorable to unfavorable.
It is hard to conceive of Democrats capturing the Senate majority without Pennsylvania being a part of their coalition of states, but the early indications do not suggest such an outcome. This race will attract much attention before the Keystone voters make their final crucial determination.