Free Markets, Free People

Were Democrats “massively outspent” in Wisconsin?

One of the more persistent memes coming out of Wisconsin is the Democrats were badly outspent by the Republicans in the Wisconsin recall elections.  Various ratios of 6, 7 or 8 to 1 have been tossed around.

But is that the case?

It appears not to be:

Altogether, at least $77.1 million surged into Wisconsin campaigns and political groups between Jan. 1, 2011 — two days before Walker took office — and April 23 of this year, according to campaign finance statements filed with the state Government Accountability Board.

The period covers the first 16 months of Walker’s tenure, including his controversial measure to effectively eliminate public sector collective bargaining, which turned the state into a national battleground and sparked 15 recall elections.

The bulk of that money — $71.9 million — was split about in half between Democratic candidates and affiliated organizations, and Republican candidates and their affiliated groups.

What some of those tossing around the ratios mentioned will do when pinned down about their numbers is then claim the ratio represents the amount spent by the Walker campaign as opposed to Tom Barrett’s campaign.  Barrett, of course, entered the race at a fairly late date (primary), so certainly Walker, who had been under the recall gun for a while, had obviously raised and probably spent much more than Barrett was able to do.

But is that a fair point?   Not really. 

Katherine Cramer Walsh, a UW-Madison associate professor of political science, said the relative parity in fundraising was surprising, especially in light of a provision in state law that allows the targets of a recall to raise unlimited money between the time a recall drive is initiated and the time an election is called. That provision helped Walker raise millions more than he could otherwise. Through April, his campaign had raised at least $22.8 million, smothering his Democratic rivals.


“The perception out there is that the Republicans are much more flush with cash, and that isn’t supported here,” Cramer Walsh said.

Why?  Because the vast majority of the money on the left went to other organizations instead of candidates and was spent during the entire time of the recall by these organizations, just as Walker was forced to do:

The State Journal’s analysis found that at least $35 million went to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Democratic candidates in recall elections and union groups including the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, Wisconsin Education Association Council and others.

On the right:

On the other side, at least $36.9 million flowed into the Walker campaign, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, pro-Walker groups and GOP officeholders tagged for recall, the analysis showed.

In the real world, that’s pretty much dead even on the money side of things (about $5.2 million in contributions went to third parties.) 

Regardless though, it is soothing to the leftist ego to believe that their righteous cause was smothered by massive spending by the other side.  It fits their ideology to a tee.  So expect it to continue to be the excuse du jure coming out of Wisconsin and the main reason they will dismiss the results as a portent of national disaster and blame “outside corporate money” for all the evils in the world.

Frankly I hope they do continue to believe that to be true.  It reminds me of their eternal belief that there’s nothing wrong with their message, it’s just the packaging and delivery that are faulty.  Let’s add “massively outspent” to the false litany of woe for the left.


Twitter: @McQandO

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23 Responses to Were Democrats “massively outspent” in Wisconsin?

  • OK, McQ, that’s just mean.  Robbing the Collective of their only anti-butt-hurt suppository like that.  Now what will they do…???

    • The real message is that there is a limit to how much lipstick you can put on a pig.  Mr Obama has 5 months to find a better pig.

  • I’ve been noticing a trend.  It’s that money in politics has an asymptote.
    As you approach the asymptote, the more money you pour in, the less effective that money becomes until eventually you turn off the voters.
    My personal guess is that no more that the margin of victory (about 7%) were actually effected by the ads and all the money.  Most formed their opinions early and stuck to them.  Some changed their minds, then reconsidered, and went back.
    I won’t go as far as to say that money can’t effect a race, but the campaign ad men are going to have to spend it better.

  • Said it the other day – it’s like offering people gold to let them take your place in a life boat lowering from the Titanic.  The Dems don’t understand why the money isn’t working any more.
    Personally, I think this is a New Media victory as much as anything else, the strangle hold on information dissemination has been broken, for the moment.

    • So you’re saying that bringing back the “Fairness Doctrine” isn’t going to change the outcome ?

      • It will if by Fairness, you mean we don’t let the Republicans, or their supporters, actually get out their message and we include ‘the internet’ along with all broadcast media, which is why I used the phrase “for the moment”.
        Clearly there are just too many choices, and the American people are obviously confused, so, to be fair, we should restrict their opportunities to gather information.

    • New Media and T-E-A Party people learning the political game.

      • Ah, yes, I really did neglect the Tea Party on this didn’t I.  But perhaps you will forgive me, it’s a dead organization, never a large grass roots movement and only a very very few people in a vocal fringe minority that never amounted to anything.  Watch and learn man, watch and learn.

        • … and they are only interested in racist ideas

          • yeah just a bunch of racist gun toteing hicks. Not interested, involved, and opinionated young people just trying to make a difference, like the OWS people.

  • Bruce does have a few new numbers here.
    Originally, the “Democrats” were claiming $34 million vs $7 million (which was claimed to be actually $21 million).
    $36.9 million vs $35 million looks pretty much like a fair fight.
    I’ve got it.  There must have been some of that mythical money that the NEA doesn’t spend on political activities in there somewhere.

  • McQ- please don’t do this. Let the left continue to take away the false lesson.

    • That won’t be a problem they won’t actually learn from this, well, the little people might not – and the big ones?  What can they do now, they always believe that throwing more money at any problem will automatically solve it.  Eventually that mode of thinking just HAS to catch up with them.

    • Don’t worry. They will not learn any lesson; they’re too disconnected from reality for that.

      They’re going to ride this diseased, rotting corpse of leftism until they die. They simply lack the psychic strength to do anything else.

      To admit they were wrong would be to admit that they’re not as smart as they think they are, and more importantly, that they’re not as smart as those people on the right they despise and consider ignorant, gullible, and stupid. It would shatter their psyche into pieces to do that. As long as someone like Krugman can feed them delusional talking points, especially with stats and graphs they don’t understand, they’ll smugly keep insisting that it’s the right’s fault, no matter what happens or how bad things get.

      Just as they preferred to see Iraq in chaos and people dying from it rather than admit they were wrong about the Surge, they would prefer that we go right off the economic cliff and see suffering among the poor on a scale not seen in our lives rather than admit they are wrong about big government leftism.

      • Speaking of disconnected from reality, the boy-king says the private sector is “doing fine”

        • No, no.  We mis-heard.  He said the private sector is BEING FINED…  Simple misunderstanding.

        • Which is another in a long series of actions that will alienate many of the clueless moderates who voted for him the first time to “be a part of history”. The ones who wince when the see “If you voted for Obama in 2008 to prove you’re not a racist, vote against him in 2012 to prove you’re not an idiot” because they know it applies to them. They may be fairly gullible, but they’re not so in the tank for Obama they they breathe through gills, and they can grasp reality if it hits them over the head enough times. He’s going to lose a lot of those votes outright to Romney, and I think lose a lot more who will simply find an excuse to stay home this time.

  • A big piece missing in this wrap-up is how the unions can use paid workers as “volunteers” and are not required to report the true costs for their activities on behalf of campaigns. In effect you have $ millions in unreported “in kind” benefits working against Scott Walker and his fellow Republicans.