GOP outspends Dems to run ads in Wisconsin recall
May 28th, 2012
10:52 AM ET
3 years ago

GOP outspends Dems to run ads in Wisconsin recall

(CNN) - If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wins next week's recall election, the big bucks the Republican governor and his allies have spent to run TV commercials will be a contributing factor.

And the ad wars over the recall contest may give Wisconsin a dubious honor this election year.

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Walker, Republican Party committees, independent tea party groups and other grassroots fiscal conservative organizations have spent around $8.65 million to run ads in the recall campaign, from November through last week, according to data from Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks and estimates the costs of campaign ads running on the air.

That's a considerable amount more than the $5.10 million that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's Democratic challenger, Democratic Party committees and independent progressive groups have spent to run commercials.

In the two week period from May 10 through May 23, Walker and his supporters shelled out around $2.5 million to run ads, including nearly $1.1 million from the governor's campaign, while Barrett's campaign has spent just under $650,000, with the total pro-Barrett spending at around $1.1 million.

"There is intense amount of advertising in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race that is chasing a minute amount of undecided voters. Attitudes are polarized and hardened in the Badger State, but with the contest so close, candidates and their allies have no choice but to go 'all in'. That said, there probably are not a lot of moveable voters at this point," Kenneth Goldstein, CNN's consultant on TV advertising and Kantar Media/CMAG president, said.

Wisconsin voters will cast ballots on June 5th to decide whether to remove Walker from office following last year's bitter battle over his push to limit the collective bargaining rights of state public employee unions.

Walker holds a single digit advantage over Barrett in the two most recent independent polls. According to a St. Norbert College/Wisconsin Public Radio survey released Thursday, 50% of people likely to vote in the June 5th recall election said they supported Walker, the first-term governor, with 45% backing Barrett, who won his party's primary earlier this month, setting up a rematch with Walker from the 2010 election that the Republican won by five points.

A Reason-Rupe poll, also released Thursday, indicated that Walker had a 50% to 42% advantage over Barrett, with 6% unsure.

While the millions spent on ad buys in the recall effort is a lot of money, it's just part of a larger pile of cash being spent to run political ads in Wisconsin this year.

"This advertising campaign in the governor recall contest is actually just a small fraction of what Wisconsin residents have seen and will see this year," said Goldstein, who's also a longtime professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Advertising in the GOP primary for president, recall election primary, and this already – and then Republican Senate primary and competitive races for U.S. Senate and president in the fall. Wisconsin is on track to have the largest number of political ads ever aired in a state."

Also see:

Gingrich's presidential advice: Raise money

Wisconsin recall's a 'test run,' DNC chair says

Giuliani gets over ego and praises Romney


Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Scott Walker • Tom Barrett • Wisconsin
soundoff (141 Responses)
  1. Ivan Bial

    Walker is the only govenor in the US with a criminal defense fund..end of story..nuf said

    May 28, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. John Puccio

    "...union members get to retire early, get obscene pensions, and lifelong medical benefits for their families while the rest of us have to wait until 65, get Medicare, and social security/401K's." Oh, dear. The Republican propaganda continues. The only way the GOP can win elections is by lying, and by killing off the middle class who vote Democratic. So kill the unions, and they've been doing a bang-up job of it over the past 30 years. For the record, union members pay for their retirement and benefits all their working lives. The unions help people retire instead of leaving them to the mercy of whatever the government can provide. Without unions we would still have a 60-80 hour work week, no overtime pay, no sick pay, no vacation time. Unions help people, protect employees, and help make companies and organizations stronger. It's no coincidence that with the Republicans' killing of unions, the divide between the middle class and the super-rich has increased dramatically. Yet many middle class Americans continue buy into the Republican lies, no matter how much poorer they're getting for it. You really can fool some of the people all of the time.

    May 28, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  3. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    One day, with any luck, the Koch brothers will realize that they cannot keep affoding to bankroll elections that get overturned, or that the elected officials get arrested, or that people start to boycott the companies they control enough to actually impact their financial security.

    May 28, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. B.

    This Democracy is now being bought buy Special Interests that will ultimately Destroy this country as we knew it.

    Like most other Third World -Pseudo Democracies in the World ours will soon join them buy Oligarchical control of government and business and even the Supreme Court which already caved in to them.

    Wake Up America, this country is being sold out buy the wealthy for absolute control , it is already well down the road!

    May 28, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Tony T

    GO WALKER GO!!!! The kids win when the teachers union doesn't get to buy health insurance from themselves at ridiculously high costs. The unions are corrupt and people with real jobs have decided the unions are not needed. Bust them up.

    May 28, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. rla

    Please democrats- You have so much wall st money now and yes Bain money you should all take a vacation as you will be getting a permanant one in november. American can see farther into the future than you can and the policies of this administration make that future dismal.... Sorry but no longer will give aways like Obama care work!!! We are beyond Hope and Change and decidedly out of Chicago and that bunch of Lemmings

    May 28, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Richard Starkey

    Scott Walker was and still is a great American singer. What's all this talk of the politicals then?

    May 28, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. luigim

    The rich are buying elections in the United States of America. This is an outrage. Did the founding Fathers want this to happen? Where has our democracy gone?

    May 28, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  9. Charles W. Skinner

    Calling it a "single digit advantage" is misleading at best on the part of the writer. A 5 point and an 8 point advantage is not only statistically significant, it is also outside the margin of error of the polling.

    CNN – Please correct this error. Or, don't, and show that you're in the tank for Barrett by trying to claim that the race is closer than it seems.

    Also, to readers: Note that this is a piece trying to mitigate the loss that Barrett and the Unions are about to suffer. The story is planting the suggestion that Walker is only winning because he and the GOP have a money advantage. NOTHING could be further from the truth. Walker will win because he is doing the right thing for the State of Wisconsin, and actually following the will of the people in reigning in the out-of-control Unions whom have run roughshod over the rights of the people and are being paid far more than their private-sector counterparts.

    May 28, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. kevin

    Why in the world would anyone vote for a dem who wants to undo everything in the state, raise taxes, and throw the state back into a recession. Gov. Walker cleaned up the defeict, balanced the budget, lowered property taxes, and the state is bouncing back. Even the great socialist/liberal FDR said you had to be stupid to let public employees be unionized. The dems are pissed because the people got tired of their failed ways. People got tired of paying for those cushy, bloated union contracts that the dems gave so freely to their union buddies. The people were sick of the high taxes. Gov. walker will win the unions and dems will come up with some other crap to get back control.

    May 28, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Tom from NY

    A bought election is not a fair election.

    May 28, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  12. David H. Braun

    This article puts a negative spin to a story that has *nothing* negative in it, ominously saying near the start that Wisconsin might have a "dubious" honor, only to reveal at the end, this "dubious" honor is "to have the largest number of political ads ever aired in a state." Big deal. Nothing "dubious". It just means it's an important political year, especially in Wisconsin.

    Further, the article implies that there is something wrong with Governor Scott Walker outspending his opponent with "big bucks" that will "be a contributing factor" if he wins. Nothing wrong with that unless you report something wrong in the source of his donations - which you don't. Apart from that, Tom Barrett's $5.1 million is, as you say, considerably less than Walker's $8.65 million, but it's still in the same ballpark, and enough to do similar advertising. But, even if it were a 10-to-1 difference (it's only 1.7-to-1), it's just a reflection of monetary support from donors - nothing more, and nothing improper.

    I live just over the Wisconsin border, in Illinois, where we had our state income tax rate raised 67% last year by a Democrat governor who is the antithesis of Scott Walker. I'm glad Scott Walker is there to present a contrast, both in choices and effects. Thank you, Scott Walker! Hurray for Wisconsin! Show the rest of the country how it's done, so we can turn our states around too! :-)

    May 28, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  13. Gurgyl

    Shame on democracy, we have to involve money to buy votes and win. I think we need education in USA. In nations like India, people take money, drink and vote a good honest person.

    May 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  14. Taylor Rusk

    I've seen one ad – i think it's laughable that the NRA is saying that Tom Barrett is specifically going to take away their 2nd Amendment rights. Huh? Yeah.....a Wisconsin Governor is going to overturn the @nd Amendment. Give me a break. My once beloved GOP is now an extremist caricature of itself....

    May 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  15. luigim

    The rich are buying elections. Did our Founding Fathers want this to happen? This is disgusting. Our Democracy is being bought away from us.

    May 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. lyn

    If Wisconsin voters allow Walker to keep his job, the voters deserve to get what they asked for. A government that only cares about the upper 1%, and the people with their heads in the sand, who think if they rub elbows with the ultra rich, some will rub off on them. Hallucinating. They don't care about the little guy, only want the little guy's vote.

    May 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. Tom from NY

    "union members get to retire early, get obscene pensions, and lifelong medical benefits for their families"

    Really? Then where do I sign up. Sounds like a great deal.

    No wonder Republicans are making it so hard for the rest of us to unionize.

    May 28, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  18. mk1

    The United States, the best democracy money can buy.

    May 28, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. Tom from NY

    Well even if Walker gets the Koch brothers to buy the election for him, there's always impeachment. The guy is a criminal – he'll go to jail eventually.

    May 28, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  20. Jim

    It's funny that you libs talk about the rich exploiting the tax code. The high income people are the only ones that pay federal income tax now. The repubs believe in letting people keep what they earn and smalled govt. The dem want to re-distribute income, and grow the size of governement while doing it.

    The dems want to make us Europe. I am happy to allow those who make money to keep it.
    Where do you stand?

    May 28, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. David H. Braun

    Governor Walker is brave and steady in the face of, at times, frenzied attacks. Thank you, Governor Walker!

    May 28, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. roro

    It is IMPERATIVE that Walker be recalled. He ran on jobs, and then proceeded to eliminate collective bargaining, instead. Divide and conquer is his theme. He LIED his way into office, which speaks to the kind of person he is. This is also seen in his being the only governor in need of a CRIMINAL DEFENSE TEAM. Why isn't anyone speaking out about this? Exactly what has he done? All you need to do is look into those dead shark eyes of his to know what a creep he really is.

    May 28, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  23. Mr. 1% the "VULTURE CAPITALIST BUSINESSMAN" would outsource the poor, disabled, unemployed and elderly to China and sell America to the highest bidder!

    This purchase of American elections has been approved by the Supreme Court neo-con activist judges "legislating from the bench".

    May 28, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  24. K3Citizen

    The GOP rigged all of our elections when they bought the Supreme Court justices that voted for Super PAC's. That is the 1%'s way of bringing the little guys down a few notches. Romney won his party's nomination by outspending his opponents 8 to 1.

    May 28, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  25. Darryl

    All the money won't stop the people....The Koch Bros are corrupt...........shame on them, stop-em !

    May 28, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
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