The Real Fundraising Gap In Wisconsin: Nowhere Near 7-to-1

Via The Washington Post and Ed Morrissey, I found the following chart of total candidate and outside spending on the recently concluded Wisconsin Recall Election:

So the total spending by Walker and his supporters was $45.6 million and the total spending by Barrett and his supporters was 20.1, which comes to a ratio of roughly 1 to 2.27.

Facts are stubborn things.

Update: Welcome Daily Dish readers, you may also be interested in learning that, whatever the money advantage that Walker had actually was, it really didn’t matter very much in the end. 

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. al-Ameda says:

    I do not believe that money made a difference, perhaps in turnout, however I do not believe that a single voter changed his or her mind regarding their like or dislike of Walker.

    Perhaps there were some who felt that a recall should be reserved for misconduct and not for ideological purposes, but I suspect those numbers are small.

  2. @al-Ameda:

    Rather, there’s probably a lot who feel recall should be reserved for misconduct, but think that being from the other team qualifies as misconduct.

  3. Jeremy says:

    @al-Ameda: Wasn’t it somewhere around 17-20% of liberals/democrats/Obama supporters voted for Walker only because they thought a recall should be reserved for official misconduct, or am I mixing up the numbers?

  4. mattb says:

    @Jeremy: I’m not sure that they can be entirely sure of those numbers but generally speaking that seems to have been a factor.

    Doug: Your analysis misses a couple things. There is a difference between fundraising and spending. That difference speaks to the bigger problem Dems in Wisconsin. The Walker fundraising was specifically targeted at the recall. And that fundraising accounted for ~2/3 of the media burn.

    On the Dem side, the lack of fundraising for Barrett meant that those Pro Democratic groups were spending their own money, which might otherwise have been used in the general.

    Granted, when looking at the outside donations, both sides spent similar amounts of money, but we need to ask if Barrett’s lack of fundraising points to the difficulties that the Pro-Democratic groups will have refilling their coffers.

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Of course when the likes of Jon Corzine outspend their GOP rivals by gargantuan sums you can hear the crickets chirping among the high dudgeon mode brigades. Move along, nothing to see there.

    Separate but related topics:

    What dollar value could we assign to union shop stewards instructing their charges to get out and vote for the Democrat? What about union stewards picking up their charges and carpooling them on their own dimes to polling places? Union shops giving days off to entire work units so they can get out there and vote? Shit, in various elections over the years entire factories have been shut down so union members get the whole day to vote. Not surprisingly, however, people who work at non-union shops don’t receive those luxuries.

    What about unionized, K-12 teachers exorting their young and addled charges to vote? How about non-stop bashing of Republicans on college and university campuses? How much is that all worth in dollars? Speaking of which, what percentage of the net votes against Walker, merely by way of example, were cast by students who can’t even walk into a Hertz and rent cars for themselves?

    What’s the monetary value of slanted news media coverage?

    There’s more to an election and to respective party advantages and disadvantages than a cash register accounting.

  6. al-Ameda says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    young and addled charges

    Why do conservatives and their ilk characterize an entire group of people (young people in classes) as “young and addled charges”?

    Seems counter productive, like the conservative effort to alienate women under the age of 75 on the issue of women’s reproductive health issues.

  7. David says:

    This is a ridiculous comparison. First of all I’m sure that “democratic outside group” money includes money spent on the primary of which at least 4 mil was spent on Falk.

    Secondly there is a big difference between a candidate’s spending and outside group spending. Even though the firewalls between campaigns and outsiders are thin, they still exist.

    The Barrett campaign can’t go out and ask the independent groups to get on TV when Barrett wants them to, they can’t control the message, they can’t use it for the types of direct voter access which outside groups aren’t well set up to acheive.

    But by all means, make your glib chart and claim that everything’s equivalent

  8. Facts are stubborn things, but, dang it, there are so many facts from which to choose! Just take it as a given: one or two facts is not an argument. Not unless you allow the other side to present their most emphatic facts. Better yet, read for yourself…from numerous sources.

  9. MikeH says:

    As someone who has worked in the ad industry for 20+ years, I find the statements that “money doesn’t matter” to be pretty darned funny. Of course it matters! Do you think that businesses spend millions of dollars trying to convince people to buy their product do so because it doesn’t work?

    Walker’s funding advantage allowed him to shape the public’s’ attitude. The reason that a majority of the voters thought that it was wrong to recall Walker was because that was what the Walker campaign wanted then to think and they spent a lot of money to get them to think that way. They didn’t have to (and probably couldn’t) make the majority actually LIKE Walker, they just had to make them think it was unfair to recall him, and they succeeded.

  10. Tom says:

    The numbers above may be true, but the graph bars completely misrepresent their comparative value.

    More lies, from lying liars who lie!

  11. Tom says:

    Sorry, ran the number in Excel (better than my head) – they graph does match….hmm….

  12. G.A. says:

    Walker’s funding advantage allowed him to shape the public’s’ attitude.

    Sigh, the entire mainstream media was against him since he took office, GOOD GOLLY, even some on our side(wink wink) add it up.But then I am sick of trying to explain money..The actions of the people that called for and supported the recall shaped the public’s attitude. I metaphorically said that my State turned red after 2010. Just wait till we get our passed and singed voter id…fun and games OVER!!!!

  13. MikeH says:

    @G.A.: Yep, it’s that “liberal media” that’s responsible. The Walker campaign spent all that money just for the fun of it. Shoot, I’ll bet that if they hadn’t spent a penny, the results would have been exactly the same.

  14. Tillman says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Not surprisingly, however, people who work at non-union shops don’t receive those luxuries.

    You just sort of made the case for more unionization, really. We want more people to vote.

  15. G.A. says: