First of all, let’s not forget that 2010 and 2014 were major victories for Republicans nationwide, where they gained numerous amounts of seats in Congress, and also won big at the state level, as GOP candidates won 24 of the 34 races for Governor. If you look at the national vote for the House of Representatives for those two elections (a good proxy for a nationwide vote, as all seats in the House were up for re-election), Walker does no better than the Republican Party as a whole.
Margin of victory, 2010 vs 2014
GOP in U.S. House +6.61%
Walker vs. Barrett +5.77% (-0.84%)
GOP in U.S. House +5.78%
Walker vs. Burke +5.67% (-0.11%)
In addition, Wisconsin’s Republican candidates for Congress drew a larger vote share in both years than Walker did.
Wisconsin GOP House vote 54.46%
Walker 52.25% (-2.21%)
Wisconsin GOP House vote 52.36%
Walker 52.26% (-0.10%)
So if anything, Walker ran BEHIND the GOP totals in those lower-turnout elections. Sure, Walker may be able can hang his hat on winning the recall by a slightly larger margin in Summer 2012 (6.8%). But let’s face it, he got a decent amount of votes in that election from
I’ll also note that while Walker tries to imply that Wisconsin’s proximity to Iowa give him an advantage, Walker’s vote share in the places closest to Iowa tell another story. The 7 counties closest to the Hawkeye state are in the southwest corner of Wisconsin, and are largely rural (La Crosse is the only one of any size). While these areas are somewhat swingy and a bit bluer than the rest of the state on the presidential level, outside of the immediate La Crosse area, they have had Republican Assembly and Senate members since the 2010 elections. Also keep in mind that Walker got almost the exact same share of the vote in both of his November victories (52.25% in 2010, 52.26% in 2014).
As you can see, Walker lost ground in 6 of the 7 counties, had two of those counties flip from red to blue (two of only 4 statewide) and in the one county he did gain in (Crawford) he still lost the county in both elections. That’s not a very impressive result to me, and you can imagine how badly Walker would been slammed with a better Dem Party performance statewide and a better Dem Party candidate for governor. And the parts of Wisconsin that are closest to Iowa are among those that have turned the most against him between his first election, and his last one.
If some enterprising national reporter is so inclined, he or she might want to trek up Highway 151 and ask why this might be. Especially with many rural school districts in those areas getting pinched by Walker’s pro-voucher policies, I’m thinking they might get some answers that don’t exactly fit Scotty’s “I’m special because I won in a “blue state” meme.” Not only because those near-Iowa areas didn’t vote for Scotty, but because Wisconsin didn’t act like a blue state in the midterms of 2010 or 2014, but was instead was more like a slightly red one where Walker would have been expected to win regardless of what he did.
These numbers expose a dirty secret about Scott Walker’s elections for governor - it’s not that impressive. In fact, it is more a reflection of anti-Obama midterm electorates filled with angry white men in Wisconsin than anything special that pertains to Walker himself (and I’m not even bringing up the huge money and propaganda advantages Walker had, something not likely to be duplicated in the GOP primaries or the presidential elections). In other words, Scotty earns no points for winning in GOP years with GOP-leaning electorates. Try again, kiddo.