When Republican Scott Walker arrives Monday at Iowa’s state fair, he’ll land in an unfamiliar position: he won’t be the front-runner in the state that holds the first presidential nominating contest.
Like most every other candidate in the historically crowded field, the Wisconsin governor’s standing in state and national polls has been hurt by the summer surge of billionaire Donald Trump, the party’s front-runner.
No state is more critical to Walker’s future than Iowa, where media expectations about his candidacy have grown to the point that anything short of a win in the Feb. 1 caucuses is likely to be viewed as a serious momentum killer.
The governor, who has enjoyed a consistent lead all year in Iowa, dropped to third in the most recent CNN poll.
He was backed by just 9 percent of likely caucus participants, below Trump at 22 percent and Carson at 14 percent.
It’s a dramatic fall for a guy who led in a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll with 17 percent as recently as late May. That was approaching the level of support—roughly 20 percent—that most party insiders agree could win the caucuses in a 17-candidate field.
Walker is the man with the most to lose from Trump’s Iowa rise because he’s counting on a win in the state to provide momentum in subsequent contests where Trump and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush are almost certain to be better financed.
Walker hasn’t just lost his standing in Iowa polls. After the first Republican presidential debate on Aug. 6, he’s also lost traction in national polls.