The Republican field in the presidential sweepstakes is shrinking. Yesterday Scott Walker made a surprisingly quick exit from the race, following Rick Perry’s departure a few days earlier.
Walker’s exit was apparently due to the modern political trifecta of failure: lack of money, falling poll numbers, and perceived gaffes. Walker got into the race with high hopes, as a successful governor in a purple state whose budget and tax cutting efforts were applauded by many conservatives. He did well for a while, but never really seemed to get much traction, his numbers fell as new candidates entered the race, and although he was in both of the “top half” Republican candidate debates he didn’t make much of an impression. He left the race with a call for Republicans to back a candidate with an optimistic approach to the issues.
It’s hard to imagine that politics could get more front-loaded than it has been over the past few election cycles, but it evidently has. This year we’re seeing serious candidates drop out after only a few glitzy debates, months before any actual voter has a say in a caucus or primary. It seems crazy — but it just reaffirms the power of TV, polls, and campaign contributions.
The departure of Walker and Perry may say something about the mood of the electorate as well as the new reality of the political process. Both Perry and Walker were successful governors of significant states. Right now, however, voters seem taken with the non-politicians, with Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, and Dr. Ben Carson leading the way. If voters aren’t interested in electing someone with experience in governing, that’s not good news for John Kasich, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal — or Jeb Bush.
Did Walker panic, or simply make a wise decision to pull the plug on a campaign that turned out to be a dud . . . or does it mean something more? In any case, if this trend keeps up we’ll soon be able to squeeze all of the remaining Republican candidates into one debate.