Jun 4, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 36 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Scott Walker understood that if he were going to accomplish big things, he’d need to start early. He learned that lesson from watching two of his good friends—governors Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie—fight to bring much-needed reform to their states. The changes were often unpopular at first. Daniels was elected governor of Indiana in 2004 with 53 percent of the vote, but two years later, after he began implementing an aggressive reform agenda, his support had dropped to 37 percent. Yet he won reelection handily in 2008, and in recent months, as the effectiveness of his continuing reforms has become obvious, his approval rating has risen as high as 70 percent. Christie followed the same model in New Jersey, and his approval ratings have traced a similar trajectory—though without the dramatic highs and lows of Daniels.
Walker hopes to follow that path. He defeated Barrett by 52 to 47 percent in 2010, and he says he thinks the results on June 5 will show that “voters are willing to stand with people who make tough choices.” A win would say that—and a 2010-level margin over Barrett would shout it. On, Wisconsin!