His story fits right into that self-flattering conservative narrative of frustration. Walker didn’t try to charm Wisconsin’s liberal establishment with some Kenny G-soft-jazz conservatism; he threw liberals into a dark cramped room and turned Metallica up to 11. He stood for what the movement believed in, and he won not just an election, but a structural reform of Wisconsin’s politics that tips the game-board in a conservative direction. He expanded school-choice initiatives. He did not set up an ObamaCare exchange in Wisconsin, rejecting federal dollars. He signed a Voter ID law. And then he won re-election in a state that went for Obama by 7 points.
This is the story that “movement” people of any type like to hear: if you show your backbone, explain yourself clearly and loudly, the people will rally behind you.
This isn’t to say that Walker doesn’t have challenges. Although the conservative movement’s views are widely shared across the party, the movement is not identical to the GOP. National parties tend to be more forgiving of (and even anxious to have) an unorthodox candidate after eight years of exile from the White House. This leaves an opening for a Jeb Bush, or if every butterfly across the globe flaps just right, a Rand Paul.