Washington (CNN) – A major union and an influential conservative interest group have each spent $1 million on television commercials in Wisconsin over the past two months in an effort to try and shape public opinion on the issues of collective bargaining and budget cuts.
The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO and the Club for Growth Wisconsin account for $2 million of the more than $2.5 million worth of TV ads that have run statewide in the last 60 days, according to a new analysis conducted by Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on political and issue advertising.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democratic lawmakers are locked in a bitter battle over the role and power of unions in Wisconsin' public workforce – a standoff that is being watched closely by GOP lawmakers in other states interested in curbing the influence of unions.
"These are significant ad buys," said Evan Tracey, president of Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group and a CNN consultant. "These are not being done for the attention of the news media. These ads are being done to help guide voters of Wisconsin to each point of view's narrative."
In addition, the union friendly organization America's Families First and the conservative group Americans for Prosperity have spent more than $230,000 each on TV commercials to try and help shape the debate.
Tracey noted that Wisconsin is "where the playbook is going to be written on these issues" and that interest groups know "winning or losing" here will have a major influence elsewhere. Several other organizations are also weighing in on these issues with their own smaller ad buys.