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?
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.