by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Behold the beast the Democrats never intended to create: a thrice-elected Republican governor in a swing state with a cult following, appreciated by both the establishment of his party and the conservative base. He’s a governor with an enviable base approval rating who received an even larger share of his own party’s vote in 2014 than 2010. This despite another year of John Doe drama, an unemployment picture that improved but fell short of his promises, a presidential appearance for his opposing Democrat (which had been missing in 2012), and the apparent flare-up between him and the Republican Governors Association head (and another presidential hopeful), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The last bit was almost certainly a ruse, as Marquette polls, over the length of the cycle, found Walker in a tight but comfortable (for Wisconsin) position.
It seems like every new challenge builds the cult of Walker. Every visual overstep by his foes, like the recent protests at his parents’ house, or recent perceived gotchas, simply bring more money and more ground troops to Team Walker.
How did this happen? One horrendous political miscalculation, fueled by raging anger and hopelessness in the face of Act 10: the recall of 2012.