4. In today’s GOP, it’s better to be a tough-talking outsider than an accomplished conservative insider. Walker’s campaign theme pointed to his record as a governor who fights the liberal establishment—and wins. But on the campaign trail, his mild-mannered personality didn’t match the mood of an angry GOP electorate. He never was a particularly charismatic politician; even when he challenged liberal activists in Wisconsin, he seemed preternaturally serene. His attempt to challenge a heckler at the Iowa State Fair by saying, “I won’t be intimidated!” was a belated attempt to show his toughness, instead of telling tales of his leadership in Wisconsin. The tough-talking rhetoric of Donald Trump and the in-your-face activism of Huckabee resonates more with conservatives who are looking for a street fighter to take on President Obama and Hillary Clinton.
At the same time, conservative voters are more interested in total political outsiders who never served in elective office than politicians who worked from within the system. It’s why Fiorina, whose resume is as establishment as any politician’s, can take off simply because she never won a political race. Walker, for all his successes, has essentially been a political lifer since college. (He didn’t even graduate in order to pursue his political interests.) As with four-term Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Walker found out that experience is more of a burden these days than an asset.