Even when Walker graduated to a higher level of politics, in which door-to-door campaigning was not feasible, he retained directness and simplicity in his communications. Clearly embracing the consultant-driven conventional wisdom that staying on message is the most important lesson of politics, his campaign websites and position statements were always pointedly brief, and he barely attempted to answer tough questions from media.

In the low-turnout spring elections for county executive and the midterm elections for governor (both of which took place during GOP wave years), Walker’s simple strategy was more than enough to prevail. The hard work was not wooing an indecisive electorate; it was simply earning the support of those who mattered early in the process and raising money.

Finally, throughout his career, Walker didn’t have to deal with a media that never hesitated to declare him dumb, dull, or dead at the first whiff of a gaffe. Although the financially strapped and understaffed Wisconsin media gave Walker more than his share of scrutiny, even the scandals that it revealed about his administration rarely seemed to receive much attention from voters, much less affect his standing. Walker found he could deal most effectively with local media by steadfastly evading tough questions with his reliable talking points.

On the crowded national stage, though, the same boring talking points aren’t good enough.