The Friday morning news held some of the usual lessons about reading further than the headlines. I stopped by The Hill to see what they were covering today and spotted the lede, Walker Hits Bump in ’16 Race. “Uh oh,” I thought. I wonder what happened? Did Walker have some incredible gaffe during a speech? Did somebody dig up a photo from his high school prom? Did he back over some child’s pet rabbit with his truck?
Actually, it’s none of the above. The only news of note was that there was yet another shift in the Iowa poll numbers.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has hit a bump in the presidential race as new candidates have crowded the field, and his national poll numbers have faltered. He was seen as an early favorite to win the Iowa caucuses after taking the race by storm with a well-received speech in January at GOP Rep. Steve King’s Iowa Freedom Summit.
Since then, some air has come out of the Walker balloon.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday still shows him with a big lead in the Hawkeye State, with 21 percent support. He leads Rubio, the next closest candidate, by 8 percentage points. But Walker’s support has fallen in Iowa. In a Quinnipiac poll from February, Walker had taken 25 percent support and led the next closest candidate by 12 percentage points…
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush now leads the field at 15.5 percent support, followed by Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) at 14.3 percent.
For you younger readers who many not have been through many of these dog and pony shows, at this stage of the game the poll numbers are very much like water sloshing around in a bucket. Or perhaps a more accurate analogy would be fifteen to twenty buckets sitting side by side with water splashing back and forth between them. Before there was anyone “officially” in the race, Walker was out and about in Iowa early, not to mention enjoying some pretty terrific headlines from his elections back home. It wasn’t much of a surprise to see that he popped some impressive numbers among the Hawkeyes in the early going.
But now we have new faces entering the race on a pretty much weekly basis. The candidates – and soon to be candidates – are crisscrossing the state every single day, showing up at bake sales, PTA meetings and people’s living rooms. Most of them are pandering their collective butts off on every issue that looks like it sells well in those parts. Each official announcement brings a bump, while the party establishment watches the fundraising numbers and sends out email blasts to the faithful on a daily basis. It’s no shock that the numbers will be percolating for a while yet.
Walker doesn’t appear to be in any trouble. The only thing that’s changed is that Jeb Bush has knuckled down on his fundraising and Rubio drew a lot of earned media in the past few weeks. When their numbers go up, they have to come from somewhere, so Walker’s drop down a bit. We have more people announcing in the near future and they’ll all get a bump too. For Walker supporters, I wouldn’t start hitting the panic button until at least the middle of June and he could easily be back at the top of the pack by then. (And nobody has been able to knock him off the top shelf in New Hampshire in quite a while.)