Why Did Scott Walker Fail?

Scott Walker started as one of the best candidates in the Republican Primary. But this week, he was the second Republican candidate to drop out. There have already been many different takes on why Walker failed: gaffes, speaking time in debates, money, failure to bridge the grassroots and establishment of the party, poor staffing.

All of those sound plausible, but not one seems really decisive. While there are reasons Walker failed, there was nothing inevitable or predictable about in his failure. When Walker announced his candidacy, pundits were correctly were positive about his chances based on everything they knew at the time. If Walker was still a frontrunner in polling today, no one would be that surprised. Only in retrospect that Walker’s failure seems easy to explain.

This is not to say that the reasons attributed to Walker’s failure are wrong. Rather, I think that it’s was basically impossible for a rational and knowledgeable person to have predicted his failure. More generally, it may be easy to construct narratives after the fact, it’s hard to predict narratives about the future.


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