Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker won three gubernatorial elections in four years, a fact that he repeats often in his early stump speeches across the country. But some Wisconsinites note that such victories did not coincide with a presidential election, and they openly wonder whether Walker would win his home state.
Walker's recall election victory in 2012 happened on a separate ballot and date from the presidential election.
Wisconsin has not gone red in a presidential election since Ronald Reagan won re-election in 1984, and the state's governor may give the GOP its best chance of victory in 2016. James Wigderson, a right-leaning columnist for the Waukesha Freeman, told the Washington Examiner, that a native son bump might not do enough to help Walker achieve success at home.
"I just think it would be very difficult for him to turn up the Republican turnout to the point where the blue areas of Madison and Milwaukee and elsewhere in the state are overwhelmed," Wigderson said. "I think he would make it competitive, but I just have this feeling that like Al Gore in 2000 he might lose his own home state."
Wigderson said the only other GOP candidate who would seem to have a shot of winning the state is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio because of his appeal to Latino voters. But Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist and veteran of the 2008 McCain-Palin presidential campaign, said if any Republican is going to win the Badger State it would be Scott Walker.
Brett Healy, president of a free-market Wisconsin think-tank named the MacIver Institute, told the Examiner Walker would probably put the state in the GOP column if he were the nominee in 2016.
"He's clearly shown that he can win the state under some tough conditions and he has shown that he is a very good campaigner," Healy said. "And so I would guess that if he were to be the Republican Party's nominee he would be able to draw some independents and conservative Democrats that you wouldn't normally see crossover for someone who is not from Wisconsin."
Walker seems to be developing a path to victory that leads directly through the Midwest, but it still may not be enough.
"If he wants to win the nomination, he has to win Iowa," O'Connell said. "[But] he's going to have to find a way to take his midwestern blue-collar message and somehow resonate in the south. … Scott Walker needs to have a find a way beyond the Midwest to win."
Walker recognizes Iowa's importance to his success nationwide, and moved swiftly earlier this year to remove ties with a political consultant who dared question Iowa's status as an early nominating contest in a Tweet.
After formally announcing his presidential campaign on Monday, Walker will visit several early primary states before he concludes the week with three days in Iowa.