Wisconsin’s Dilettante

In the absence of a major Republican wave this year, a closer race was to be expected. The Marquette poll shows that just 5 percent of voters say they’re undecided. Like Governor Rick Scott in Florida, who is also locked in a tight race with an unattractive opponent, Walker is a known quantity and most voters have an opinion about him.

“The pool of undecided voters is just so small, I can’t even tell you if there’s any other state even comparable,” says one GOP strategist working on the race. “From now until the end, the race will stay tight.”

Walker rose to national prominence when he succeeded in getting legislation passed to curb the collective-bargaining rights of the state’s public-sector unions, and he caught the attention of top-dollar Republican donors when he beat back a union-led effort to recall his election. As throngs of left-wing protesters rushed the state capitol, he looked like the adult in the room, and he won the recall election by a greater margin than he was elected with in 2010.

Despite that accomplishment, he now faces the prospect of defeat, and the premature end to a presumptive presidential campaign.

“He’s in a dogfight, he has to win, period, and clearly the more he wins by the more his name is going to be touted after the midterm elections as somebody who is a viable candidate nationally,” says GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. A source close to top Republican donors says the governor is “raising money like crazy,” describing the effort as “all hands on deck.”

Read more from Eliana Johnson at National Review Online

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Analysis & Political Strategy