Is Scott Walker "Dead Man Walker" in Iowa?

Republican presidential candidate Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., meets local residents Thomas and Lynn Walsh during a stop at the Washington General Store during his two-day motorcycle tour through the nation's earliest presidential primary voting state, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, in Washington, N.H.

AP Photo/Jim Cole

"Dead Man Walker" isn't exactly a new nickname for Scott Walker, but it was originally conferred upon him in 2011 by Time Magazine - before he became the first governor in U.S. history to successfully defend a recall.

But falling poll numbers in the GOP presidential race, coupled with an ongoing lack of clarity on his positions on immigration and the recent European migrant crisis may have some critics whispering the moniker again.

In a Quinnipiac poll released on July 1st, Walker led the Republican field in Iowa with 18 percent of likely GOP caucusgoers supporting him. Now in that same poll, Walker has tumbled to three percent and is now in 10th place.

There is no mistaking that Iowa is an important state for Walker. He likes to consider himself a native son, since he lived in Plainfield, Iowa until he was seven years old. He's made it the first domino in his campaign's "Midwest strategy" to win the Republican nomination, a plan he has mentioned on the trail.

At one Iowa fundraiser in May, he said, according to the Wall Street Journal, "When you look at Iowa...you look at Wisconsin, you look at Michigan, you look at Ohio, sometimes you include Pennsylvania...you look at those key states, and I think that's the pathway by which the next president is going to get elected."

Now, he's watching Iowa slip away, and voters in Ohio now have their own well-liked governor, John Kasich, to consider for the presidency.

The other Midwestern states also present challenges for Walker. Wisconsin hasn't chosen the Republican nominee since Ronald Reagan's reelection in 1984 - a fact that Walker highlights often in relation to the three statewide elections he has won over the past four years.

But having a Republican governor in a Midwestern state is no guarantee that its voters will support the GOP candidate at the top of the ticket, either. In 2012, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio all had Republican governors, and all four states voted to reelect Barack Obama.

In fact, neither Michigan or Pennsylvania have voted for a republican in the general election since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

The Walker campaign has always acknowledged the importance of Iowa, but since Walker announced in July, the campaign has been trying to downplay expectations, even as Walker was near the top of every poll in the state. Rick Wiley, Walker's campaign manager, told a group in Madison shortly after Walker's announcement that there were no "must wins" but that he thought the campaign would "do really well in Iowa".

It was in Iowa back in January that Walker gave a well-received speech in Des Moines that ignited conservatives and propelled Walker to the top of the polls.

Now the campaign's focus is squarely on doing the work needed to build support and a winning organization on the ground. Walker has campaign events scheduled In Iowa throughout the weekend.

When asked for comment about the latest Iowa numbers, David Polyansky, a Walker senior Iowa adviser said, "This is Big 10 football -we're blocking and tackling on our ground game. Despite the chattering class wanting to prematurely frame the race before Iowa Republicans have had the opportunity to decide for themselves, Team Walker is focused on keeping our heads down and working to engage our growing grassroots leadership team across the state."

Walker will have an opportunity to try to change the dynamic in the race Wednesday at the second GOP debate, hosted by CNN. He's promising to be more vibrant and talk about his plans to "wreak havoc" on Washington as president, as he did in Wisconsin. But he'll have to see if he can make his voice heard above the other 10 candidates on stage with him.

One positive note for the Wisconsin governor: even as his support has declined in Iowa, he is still viewed favorably among voters there, according to the Quinnipiac poll. Sixty-two percent of likely Iowa caucus participants have a positive impression of the governor, putting him in a tie for third with Carly Fiorina and only behind Ben Carson (79 percent) and Marco Rubio (66 percent).

In September of 2011, Rick Santorum, who ultimately went on to win the Iowa caucuses, was polling at one percent in a CBS News/New York Times poll. But that field was considered to be smaller and weaker than the one Walker faces this time around. And Santorum's 2012 victory in the caucuses hasn't helped him out in 2016 - he is foundering at the back of the pack - again - at one percent, according to Quinnipiac.