Scott Walker's Departure Changes 2016 Republican Race

| by Will Hagle
Gov. Scott Walker.Gov. Scott Walker.

Scott Walker is the latest Republican candidate to bow out of the 2016 presidential race. Walker’s departure was somewhat unexpected — the conservative Wisconsin governor appealed to a wide base and seemed to have a genuine shot at the nomination early on.

He was polling low — at 1.8 percent in the latest Real Clear Politics poll — but he still managed to make his way into the prime time debates and dominate much of the political conversation. He seemed to have more of a chance than Rick Perry, the first candidate to drop out. 

Walker leaving the race may not have much of an effect on the leading candidates, but it does fundamentally change the campaign. Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ben Carson are still polling highest and have received the most media attention.

Without Walker, the candidates receiving the most support will only gain more voters. That’s part of the reason Walker gave in announcing his decision. “The Bible is full of stories of people who were called to be leaders in unusual ways,” Walker said, according to The Hill. “Today, I believe that I am being called to lead helping to clear the field in this race so that a positive, conservative message can rise to the top of the field.”

With such a crowded GOP field, there have been numerous surprises throughout the 2016 race. Fiorina and Carson have surged from the bottom of the pack to the top. Bush’s status has fluctuated. Walker went from being a possible nominee to leaving the race. Given the unstable and uncertain nature of the election cycle thus far, Walker could have had a chance to rise back to the top of the pack. The election isn’t until next November — there’s still plenty of time.

The most interesting aspect of Walker’s departure speech was how he called for other candidates to drop out of the race. “I encourage other Republican presidential candidates to consider doing the same, so the voters can focus on a limited number of candidates who can offer a positive, conservative alternative to the current front-runner,” Walker said.

His decision, then, stems from the fact that Trump is leading the party and no one seems to be able to challenge him. Again, that approach could backfire if Walker's supporters decide to side with Trump. 

The diversity of opinions, of course, is what has made the Republican Party so interesting this year. While the Democrats wait to appoint Hillary Clinton — much to former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s chagrin — Republicans are duking it out in a public, back-and-forth race.

Although Trump is winning, any of the candidates could make a comeback. There are now 15 candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president. That’s still a high number, but voters deserve the issues to be debated from multiple perspectives. At least the public won’t be deprived of too much now that Walker — a strict, anti-union conservative — is no longer an option.

Sources: The Hill, CNN, Real Clear Politics / Image credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr