The Scott Walker boom is real.
On the heels of a poll from the respected Des Moines Register revealing that the Wisconsin governor has a real shot at winning the Iowa caucuses, a survey of New Hampshire’s Republican voters suggests that he also has a chance of winning in the Granite State.
In a NH1 News poll of Republicans and independents, Walker came out ahead of the entire Republican field with 21 percent of the vote. Trailing in a distant second place was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who secured the support of just over 14 percent of the primary electorate.
That wasn’t the only good news for Walker on the polling front. A Public Policy Polling survey of North Carolina released on Wednesday showed that Walker is tied in a hypothetical primary matchup with Dr. Ben Carson at 14 percent each. Trailing narrowly behind the two candidates, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee netted a respectable 13 percent of the support of Tar Heel State Republicans.
With his appeal to both the Republican Party’s conservative and moderate wings, Walker appears to have filled the void left by Mitt Romney when he exited the 2016 race last week. But, from Walker’s perspective, he might be peaking a bit too early. The Badger State governor will only be able to sustain this momentum if he wins the support of the Republican donor class and secures the donations required to compete with fundraising powerhouses like Bush, and he seems to know it. Walker is apparently moving quickly to secure formerly committed Romney donors, and he is doing it on Bush’s home turf: Florida.
Politico observed that Walker’s ties to the GOP donor class are strong after having raised tens of millions in order to run three state-wide races in Wisconsin in the space of just four years. He is set to capitalize on those connections when he heads to the Sunshine State in March.
Some allies of Bush have been arguing behind the scenes that Walker won’t be able to compete with the financial juggernaut they’re amassing. Bush has at least 60 fundraising events scheduled over the next few months, aiming to post a first-quarter haul that will show beyond question he’s the candidate to beat for the nomination.
Walker allies are confident that they’ll have plenty of money to be competitive even if they can’t match Bush. The key, they say, is to collect enough money to be viable in the early-voting states — through March 1, 2016. If they can pull off a few initial victories, a gush of money will follow, they predict.
One Walker adviser likened Bush to Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who raised oodles of money in the 2008 race but never caught fire with the grass roots. “If you can’t place well in the first four states, it doesn’t matter how much cash you have,” said a Walker adviser.
Nothing loosens up wallets like the prospect of winning and providing donors with a return on their investment. While rapidly squandering his claim to being the most electable Republican in the 2016 race, Bush is also going about losing the GOP nomination (as he promised) in spectacular fashion. From his vocal support for Common Core education standards to backing comprehensive immigration reform, Bush seems to relish antagonizing the GOP’s conservative base. And while Walker has his own troubles appealing to the party’s most conservative elements, he has managed to avoid alienating them in the days that followed his decision to explore a presidential bid.
With the wind at his back, Walker might secure the support of enough key Republican donors to compete with Bush on the ground in states like New Hampshire and Iowa. And no Republican has ever lost both the Hawkeye State caucuses and the Granite State primary and gone on to win the party’s presidential nomination.