Scott Walker’s sudden suspension of his presidential race is one of the biggest surprises in presidential politics this year. The Wisconsin governor, who looked like a serious contender to win the nomination, saw his standing diminish over the summer as flashier, more-outspoken conservative challengers stole the limelight. Three months ago, he was polling in first place in Iowa and in some national polls. In the CNN/ORC national poll of Republicans released Monday, Walker didn’t even register at 1 percent among Republican voters.
Walker’s withdrawal offers some clear lessons for the 14 remaining candidates—about the importance of raising hard money, having a clear message designed for the long haul, understanding the toxicity of being involved in politics, and the importance of foreign policy in today’s Republican Party.
Here are five of the most important takeaways from Walker’s withdrawal:
1. Hard money (and spending discipline) matters. It’s ironic that, in the age of the super PAC, when it’s easier than ever to raise outside money, two accomplished big-name governors dropped out in the summer in part because they couldn’t raise enough hard money to sustain their operations. Walker, who entered the race July 13, had the support of a well-funded 527 (which raised $20 million at the end of June) and the excitement of many of the wealthiest donors in the party. Now, before he even has a chance to file his first fundraising report, he’s out of the race because he couldn’t get enough donors to commit to his campaign. “No amount of super PAC $ can suffice for hard dollars,” a Walker adviser told National Journal in an email.