Is Scott Walker Unstoppable?

Scott Walker is riding high now, and soon he will be unstoppable.

The two political parties are becoming, more and more, ideological parties.  Gallup reports that 70% of all Republicans describe themselves as “conservative” (and that explains why Jeb Bush never fails to also describe himself also as “conservative”), and only 24% of Republicans describe themselves as “moderate.”  

Consider those numbers and then consider the percentage of Republicans who favor different potential nominees in recent polls, and consider the combined percentage of the vote for Republican candidates who are clearly conservative, by which I include Scott Walker, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Santorum.

The CNN poll of February 18 had these percentages of support for possible Republican candidate:  Huckabee (17), Bush (12), Walker (11), Paul (11), Carson (9), Christie (7), Rubio (6), Cruz (3), Perry (2), Santorum (2), Kasich (2), and Jindal (1).  About 17% are undecided, but the clearly conservative Republican potential candidates have a combined total in that survey of 62%, even assuming that none of the undecided respondents supported a conservative candidate.

Now consider PPP poll results one week later: Walker (25), Huckabee (11), Paul (13), Carson (11), Bush (10), Christie (5), Cruz (5), Paul (4), Rubio (3), Perry (3), with Jindal, Santorum, and Kasich each at one percent.  About 7% were undecided, but the clearly conservative candidates had 74% of the respondents support, even if none of the undecided supported a conservative candidate.

The Marist Poll of March 7 shows that Walker, again, has a plurality with these numbers: Bush (19), Walker (18), Huckabee (10), Carson (9), Paul (7), Christie (6), Rubio (5), Cruz (4), Perry (3), Santorum (2), Jindal (2), and Kasich (1), with about 14% undecided.  Although Bush has a plurality in this poll, the combined total of the clearly conservative candidates is 60% of the total, even if none of the undecided supported a conservative candidate.

These strongly conservative Republicans cover some broad territory (Rand Paul is libertarian and Mike Huckabee is a social conservative), but none of these Republicans’ supporters, when his favorite Republican falters, is going to turn to Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or John Kasich.  When the race for the nomination boils down to Bush and Walker, then Walker’s numbers will quickly balloon to a clear majority of Republicans.  At that point, the race is over.

Look at the polling data in particular states.  Gravis Poll data in South Carolina shows Bush with a small plurality over Walker, but even when native son Lindsay Graham is in the mix, the clearly conservative candidates have 54% of the respondents, even with 5% still undecided.  Gravis Poll data in Bush’s Florida shows the clearly conservative candidates with 61% of the respondents, even with 10% still undecided.  The results for Nevada show clearly conservative candidates with 61% of the vote, with 16% undecided. 

The Field Poll in California gives the clearly conservative Republicans with 58% support, even when a whopping 33% are undecided.  The NBC Poll in New Hampshire shows 57% supporting clear conservatives, even when 12% are undecided.  Christopher Newport University in Virginia gives clear conservative candidates “only” 53% of the support, with 13% undecided.  Rick Santorum’s home state of Pennsylvania gives the clear conservative candidates 63% of the support, with 7% undecided. 

If Walker remains the most likely conservative to win the Republican nomination, then other conservative contenders will find their support and contributions going to Walker.  As the race begins to boil down to Walker or Bush, conservatives will have an increasingly simple choice. 

The only thing that might derail Scott Walker is if he seems to be unelectable.  Yet Scott Walker is the only governor in American history to have ever won three elections in four years, and that in Wisconsin.  The most recent Marist poll shows Scott Walker running neck and neck with Hillary Clinton, and it shows Scott Walker running better against Hillary than any other Republican.  That suggests that not only is Walker electable, but he may well be the most electable Republican around.

Conservatives, frustrated since 1988, want a strong conservative to be the Republican nominee in 2016, and Scott Walker fits that perfectly.  Republicans, practically all Republicans, want to win the White House next time around, and Scott Walker may be the best chance for a Republican president in 2016.  It is hard to see moderates fighting Walker too hard, and it is almost certain that conservatives will coalesce around him fairly fast.  Scott Walker seems unstoppable.

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