Posts Tagged the Republican nomination

Gov. Walker Campaign Trying To Reverse Sinking Expectations

Scott WalkerScott Walker has downshifted his initially ambitious campaign for president to focus on first-to-vote Iowa, scrambling Thursday to reassure jittery donors and supporters after a quiet performance in the second Republican debate.

Walker spoke less than anyone else during a three-hour marathon in which he was asked only two direct questions. While Walker’s campaign manager said on Twitter it was “ridiculous” how little attention his boss got from the debate’s moderators, Walker said afterward it was time to adjust his strategy to win the Republican nomination.

“We’re putting all our eggs in the basket of Iowa,” he told MSNBC.

But first, Walker needs to settle donors hedging their bets on the Wisconsin governor. Among them is billionaire media mogul Stanley Hubbard, who said Thursday that while he still supports Walker, he’s going to also start giving money to Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.

“For some reason, the people I’m close to, they aren’t getting excited about him,” said Hubbard, who gave $100,000 to two pro-Walker groups earlier this year. “And I don’t know why. He’s saying the right things.”

The turnabout comes a few days after Walker, seeking to spark a campaign that has lagged in polls and fundraising after a fast start, unveiled a sweeping proposal to reshape organized labor in the United States. Designed to be a dramatic moment on Walker’s signature issue, he wasn’t asked about it during Wednesday’s debate and he didn’t bring it up on his own.

Walker and campaign manager Rick Wiley told donors on a conference call Thursday afternoon that he retains key strengths in Iowa. His favorability ratings in a recent statewide poll were higher than nearly anyone else, and he has campaign leaders in each of the state’s 99 counties, a level of organization that should pay off in the February caucuses.

Walker returns to the state this weekend for a speech at an Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition dinner in Des Moines on Saturday night, followed by a full day of campaigning Sunday.

“The biggest thing for us is getting back to the basics, getting into Iowa and the early states,” Walker told MSNBC after the debate.

One of Walker’s top fundraisers, Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts, praised Wiley during the conference call in an effort to quell grumbles from some donors that the campaign needs a change.

Some of the campaign’s top donors and fundraisers have expressed worry in recent weeks, as Walker’s poll numbers have slipped, that he’ll close out his first three months of fundraising without having raised enough to run a competitive campaign. Walker joined the call Thursday to personally plead for money.

Nervous campaign vendors are currently waiting to be paid more than $100,000 for outstanding debts, according to a person at one of the firms who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the firm’s financial relationship to Walker’s campaign.

The person said there is widespread recognition that Walker built a large and expensive campaign infrastructure when fundraising appeared strong earlier in the year. That is leading to fears among Walker’s creditors that he could become this cycle’s Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who left the 2012 presidential race deep in debt months before the first votes were cast.

In addition to Thursday’s 30-minute conference call, Walker courted donors directly in California. He has a series of fundraisers planned, including next week in New York City and later this month in his home state.

Walker still benefits from two outside groups that can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors, and they reported amassing $26 million in the first six months of the year, before Walker made his candidacy official.

But like Hubbard, some of Walker’s biggest financial supporters have spread their largesse from the start, an indication that they’re not committed to him for the long haul.

Robert McNair, the billionaire owner of the Houston Texans, gave $500,000 to a pro-Walker super PAC — and the same amount to groups backing Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham. Chicago billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin cut $100,000 checks this spring to Walker, Rubio and Bush.

That’s a smart strategy for donors, Hubbard said Thursday.

“I’m not going to turn my back on Walker,” he said. “I’m still continuing to back him. … But I think it’s good to have a robust team.”

Walker still has a path to victory in Iowa, but interest has moved away from him and toward Fiorina, Donald Trump and Ben Carson, said Will Rogers, chairman of the Republican Party in Iowa’s Polk County.

“I don’t think people disqualify Scott Walker. I think they still look at him and respect him. I think that at the same time, the attention has really shifted from someone like Scott Walker, it has really shined on (Donald) Trump,” Rogers said.

But Roger Pilc, a Connecticut technology executive involved in an upcoming New York fundraiser for Walker, said he expects interest in the governor to increase as other candidates fade away.

“He’ll rise back up,” Pilc predicted, “as he shows that he is an outsider to Washington, but one who has a record of getting things done.”



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Scott Walker leads tight GOP pack in new Iowa Poll


Original Source and Copyright: The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics

Presidential stage newcomer Scott Walker, the conservative reform pit bull who inspired death threats from the left, has become the one to watch in the race for the Republican nomination a year out from the Iowa caucuses.

At 15 percentage points, he leads a big, tightly packed field of potential contenders in a new Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucusgoers. The caucuses are scheduled for Feb. 1, 2016.

The Wisconsin governor is also the No. 2 most popular choice for likely caucusgoers who want an establishment candidate, and he’s the No. 2 for those who want an anti-establishment candidate, the poll shows.

“He’s in a sweet spot,” pollster J. Ann Selzer said. “People who don’t want an ultra-conservative think he’s OK. People who don’t want a moderate think he’s OK.”

Just one point behind is Rand Paul, a U.S. senator from Kentucky and the son of three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul, a hero to dissidents who want to shake up government. Paul draws support from the same anti-establishment well.

Rounding out the top tier are Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee; Mike Huckabee, the 2008 winner of the Iowa caucuses; Ben Carson, a best-selling author and famed brain surgeon; and Jeb Bush, a relative to two past presidents.

The day after polling wrapped up, Romney announced he’s out of the competition. When the numbers in this poll are shuffled by giving Romney’s votes to the contenders his supporters named as their second-choice pick, the five others in the top tier gain support.

Huckabee, a former TV commentator and two-term Arkansas governor, benefits the most, picking up 3 percentage points. The pecking order doesn’t shift, though.

For the bottom tier, the horse race ranking shifts slightly without Romney in the mix. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie moves up a notch to tie with Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for sixth place. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania stays in eighth. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio climbs one spot into ninth, followed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is next, followed by a three-way tie among TV star and real estate developer Donald Trump, former computer company CEO Carly Fiorina and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence doesn’t register on poll respondents’ radar.

Sophisticated campaign operatives will now decide which candidate they have to topple for their candidate to rise and begin targeting them with negative information, said Katie Packer Gage, a Washington, D.C.-based strategist who was deputy campaign manager for Romney in 2012.

“This is where campaigns start to matter,” Gage said. “Huckabee will go hard after Santorum. Jeb and Christie will go to war. Cruz and Paul will figure out that they have to take Carson down, then each other.”

The poll of 402 likely Republican caucusgoers was conducted Jan. 26-29 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

Historically, caucusgoers have rewarded those who show up in Iowa and get involved in early activist conversations. Six months after the 2012 election, Walker gave a political speech in Iowa, then shunned 2016 activities to focus on winning re-election as governor in Wisconsin in fall 2014.

Last weekend, he made his big debut as a potential presidential contender, delivering a forceful speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit that elated the audience. Extensive national media coverage billed Walker as the best of show among nine potential candidates who spoke at the summit.

“He got a big bounce,” Selzer said.

Walker’s support has jumped 11 points since the last Iowa Poll. In October, only 4 percent of likely caucusgoers named Walker as their first choice for president.

Meanwhile, Romney’s support in the Iowa horse race tumbled 4 points, from 17 percent to 13 percent.

The trinity of big establishment contenders all saw feelings toward them sour since the last poll. The percentage of likely caucusgoers who view Romney favorably slid 8 percentage points since October. Bush, the only one of the three who hasn’t yet come to Iowa since the 2012 election, dropped 4 points, and Christie 3 points.

At the same time, the favorability rating for Walker has climbed 11 percentage points; Carson, 9; Huckabee, 7; Cruz, 6; Santorum, 5; and Paul, 5, the new poll shows.

“The candidates perceived as more conservative are not only leading but are gaining,” GOP strategist Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman, noted after looking over the results.

Electability is secondary for these likely caucusgoers, the poll found.

Sixty percent say it’s more important to vote for the person who aligns with their values, even if that candidate isn’t electable, compared with 36 percent who say winning the White House for Republicans is more important.

A majority  51 percent of likely GOP caucusgoers, would prefer an anti-establishment candidate without a lot of ties to Washington or Wall Street who would change the way things are done and challenge conventional thinking. That compares to 43 percent who think the better leader would be a mainstream establishment candidate with executive experience who understands business and how to execute ideas, the new poll shows.

For respondents who say they want an establishment candidate, Romney is their first choice. With Romney out of the picture, Walker leads. Huckabee is next, then Bush.

The vote share is spread thinly across the 16 contenders, but with a large field, the Iowa caucuses could be won with less than 20 percent, political strategists say.

Look at the extremes in the favorability ratings for clues about what the future might hold, Gage said.

It’s bad news for Trump: 32 percent say their opinion of him is “very” unfavorable, the worst in the bunch. Christie’s number is the next worst, with 22 percent who view him very negatively, and Bush is next, at 18 percent.

In contrast, Walker has the highest percentage saying they feel “very” positively about him 32 percent. No one else tops 30 percent on that score.

“The passion is in the ‘very favorable’ and ‘very unfavorable,’ ” Gage said. “Everyone else is movable.”

About the poll

The Iowa Poll, conducted Jan. 26-29 for The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, is based on phone interviews with 401 registered Iowa voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Democratic caucuses and 402 registered voters who say they definitely or probably will attend the 2016 Republican caucuses.

Interviewers contacted 3,813 randomly selected active voters from the Iowa secretary of state’s voter registration list by telephone. Responses were adjusted by age, sex and congressional district to reflect all active voters in the voter registration list.

Questions based on the subsamples of 401 likely Democratic caucus attendees and 402 likely Republican caucus attendees have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. This means that if this survey were repeated using the same questions and the same methodology, 19 times out of 20, the findings would no

t vary from the percentages shown here by more than plus or minus 4.9 percentage points. Results based on smaller samples of respondents, such as by gender or age, have a larger margin of error.

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