Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker appears to be on a roll.
After coming out on top at last month's Iowa Freedom Summit — a surprise to many — Walker is now in a dead heat with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Lone Star state, according to a new University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll
Walker has stripped Cruz of the 25 percentage-point lead he had in October, The Texas Tribune reports, with the two now in a statistical tie. Cruz had the support of 20 percent of Texas registered voters; Walker had 19 percent.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ben Carson tied at 9 percent, and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry followed at 8 percent.
In Iowa, Walker received multiple standing ovations after igniting the crowd
during his speech.
"If you're not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results," Walker said in Iowa.
Walker's numbers in the Texas poll have surged since October, when he garnered just 2 percent of voter support there, compared with Cruz's 27 percent.
"Scott Walker is clearly breathing some of the oxygen on the right," Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin, told the Tribune. "The big takeaway here is that Ted Cruz is still a giant among Texas Republicans — but he is not invulnerable.
"Conservatives are willing to look at another candidate who fits that profile."
The poll's co-director, UT-Austin Government Professor Daron Shaw, told the Tribune that while Cruz still carries a lot of weight in Texas, Walker is "a momentum candidate," a designation that comes with pros and cons.
"If you start out strong really early, the other candidates tend to turn their cannons on you," Shaw said.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post
declared Walker the "it" candidate, noting that since the Iowa Freedom Summit, the Wisconsin governor's numbers have surged.
And in late January, a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll showed Walker leading the GOP pack
with 15 percent, up from just 4 percent in the same poll in October.
New Hampshire Union-Leader columnist Andrew Cline opines that Walker's surge "reveals a hunger on the right for an anti-Obama
," something Walker has done the best job of imparting to voters thus far.
"Conservatives have hungered for a new Ronald Reagan since 1988," writes Cline. "One reason that no Reagan heir has emerged — aside from the obvious fact that Reagan was a rare figure of Rushmore proportions — is that he changed the terms of the debate.
"No small-government, reform conservative has won the Republican presidential nomination since Reagan in part because a lot of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters, comfortable in the post-Reagan economy, did not feel that further radical reforms were necessary.
"After six years of Obama trying to build 'The Great Society II: Insolvency Boogaloo,' a lot of Republicans feel like the party needs a champion to reform a dysfunctional, corrupt, oppressive Washington," Cline continues.
"There is a sense that it is 1979 all over again. Walker, with victory after victory against the machinery of big government in Wisconsin, speaks to that longing."
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