Walker and GOP win Wisconsin recall ad spending war
June 4th, 2012
04:47 PM ET
11 years ago

Walker and GOP win Wisconsin recall ad spending war

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

Walker, the Republican Governors Association, and independent tea party groups and other grassroots fiscal conservative organizations have spent around $2.484 million to run ads in the recall campaign over the past week, according to data provided to its clients by Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks and estimates the costs of campaign television ads.

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That's more than double the $1.125 million Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's Democratic challenger, Democratic Party committees and independent progressive groups have spent to run commercials from last Monday through Sunday. Overall nearly $3.6 million has been spent to flood Wisconsin airwaves with recall spots the past week.

"In a competitive election, to see one side have an advantage in ad spending is unusual. So we are not only in unchartered waters because it's a recall contest, we're in unchartered waters because of the volume of political advertising," said Kenneth Goldstein, CNN's consultant on TV advertising and Kantar Media/CMAG president.

"There was talk that the advantage Gov. Walker and his Republican allies enjoyed in terms of ad spending would diminish in the final weeks of this campaign, but that hasn't happened," added Goldstein, who's also a longtime professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Republican advantage in ad spending is not just a one-week phenomenon. Dating back to November 1, Walker and his Republican allies have spent $12.3 million to run ads, more than double the $5.6 million spent by Barrett and his Democratic allies. Overall, more than $18 million has been shelled out to run recall related spots since the beginning of November.

"The spending advantage isn't just about Republicans out-advertising Democrats - especially now, given the law of diminishing returns for TV ads. It's about how Walker and the GOP used the advantage along the way, shoring up Walker's standing with independents early on, and pounding Barrett so hard that he got no bounce out of his primary win," Kantar Media/CMAG Vice President Elizabeth Wilner told CNN. "With the race tightening, if Walker pulls it out, it will have a lot to do with those early investments."

The most recent non-partisan public opinion polls indicate Walker with a slight single-digit advantage over Barrett.

Walker set off a firestorm in January 2011 when he moved to curtail the collective bargaining rights of most Wisconsin state employees.

With majorities in both houses of the legislature, Walker and his GOP allies voted to limit raises for public employees except police and firefighters to the rate of inflation, bar unions from deducting dues from workers' paychecks and force them to hold a new certification vote every year. That bill was signed into law in March, following weeks of protests at the state capitol building in Madison.

Republicans insisted it was necessary to control the skyrocketing costs of public employee benefits and close the budget shortfall. Democrats argued it was an attempt to gut public-sector labor unions, one of their core constituencies.

The public demonstrations all but shut down the Wisconsin state legislature for weeks. It also drew protesters by the tens of thousands, among them union supporters and public employees, who called the measure an attack on workers. A group of Democratic lawmakers left the state for some time in an effort to not allow a quorum for a vote.

The state Supreme Court upheld the controversial law in June, but the battle sparked a storm of political activism that led to the recall effort. The election was scheduled earlier this year, after more than 900,000 signatures petitioning for a recall of the first-term governor were collected.

This would be the first time in Wisconsin's history that a governor has faced recall. There have only been two successful gubernatorial recalls in the nation's history: California Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 and North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier in 1921.

Republican Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and four GOP state senators also face recall elections Tuesday.

Regardless of whether history is made Tuesday in the recall election, Wisconsin is on track to make some other history.

"This advertising campaign in the governor recall contest is just a small fraction of what Wisconsin residents have seen and will see this year," says Goldstein. "Thanks to advertising in the GOP primary for president, the recall election primary and general election, the 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:

Poll: Romney's favorable rating jumps, but Obama still more popular

Romney backer offers soft Obama praise

Barrett on a presidential visit: Obama's busy

Filed under: 2012 • Ads • Scott Walker • Tom Barrett • Wisconsin
soundoff (30 Responses)

    Money well wasted.

    June 4, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  2. Bill

    I hope the people of Wisconsin teach this crep that you can not buy an election or your popularity.

    June 4, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  3. GOP = Greed Over People

    This election purchase has been approved by the SCOTUS!

    June 4, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. Candlelight Obsession

    huh....no comment?

    June 4, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. king

    i guest the labor unions will lose, now is time to compete with chinese slave labor. i wonder what can a family do with 10 dollar an hour job with no benifits. l wonder how many industries like housing will stick around when a majority of americans cannot afford them, because of they got to compete with chinese labor to keep jobs in america. hey americans need to start house pooling so they can afford homes, transportations, appliances, hey 10 dollar an hour jobs, money go fast when the only thing you can afford is food. they say that corporations will invest more when the repubs cut spending, i wonder what planet they are living on. when corporations have no where else to run in america, they are going over seas. the problem will lie with the small businesses, because they have no where to run when their customers stop coming through their doors. too bad they hires 75 percent of american workers.

    June 4, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Mario

    On Tuesday you will see Republican and Democrat come together and say No to Walker/Romney and their BIG MONEY $ 30 Million campaign in Wisconsin. Don't let them take your Civil right.

    June 4, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. Myviewis

    This is a first for Republicans. Back in 2007 Senator Obama and Hillary Clinton each raised more money than Giuliani. Democrats always have a financial advantage over Republicans. Let's be honest, Democrats always outraise Republicans who are usually underfunded. We always read about Democrat candidates having huge monies over the Republican candidates. So this definitely is a first for Republicans. And even now Obama is financial ahead of Romney.

    June 4, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  8. cali girl

    A tip jar, that's impressive.

    June 4, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. The Nudge

    The spending has become riduculous. We need to fight to overturn Citizen's United! What a travesty to our democratic process. I don't care if both Corporate as well as Union funds were not allowed for campaigning, period. At at least, they must all divulge their sources. The sneakiness behind who funds some of these campaign ads is slimy at best. In CA, for example, the tobacco companies are funding the Vote No on 29 effort. Who cares where cancer research happens, we just want it to happen! Most campaign ads are loaded with twisted exaggerations that have little to do with reality. Gullible fools eat it up because they are too lazy to research on their own. Particularly disturbing are those who rely on Fox "so called" News for input, but that's a whole other sad story. America, wake up!

    June 4, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. george of the jungle

    I hope the peolpe will show big money that they can't buy everything. Obama 2012

    June 4, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  11. ST

    One can realised how inconsiderate these millionaires and billionaires are. The money they have thrown to be burnt in a matter of seconds, could have been used to create a lot of jobs!

    June 4, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  12. G

    Wisconsin is the birthplace of the Labor Movement. And, it can also be where the fight against Citizens United begin.

    June 4, 2012 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. rob

    No mention of the ALL-OUT national Union and Democrat war against walker. Thanks for the ballance CNN

    Walker will win probably by more than 5 points. After that, no more mention of the recall in the liberal media. This will be a great day for America. Next stop....Nov. 6th.

    June 4, 2012 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  14. B

    One of Scott Walker's top donors billionaire Diane Hendricks paid zero amount in federal income taxes in 2010. However, she managed to donate 500K to Walker's campaign. Walker will be beholden to his rich donors, not to the people of Wisconsin.

    June 4, 2012 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  15. Tony

    Thanks to the Citizens United decision, the GOP can raise and spend unlimited amount of money from corporations. Romney is not the only person who thinks that corporations are people. The Supreme Court thinks so too. Hopefully, after Obama wins in November–because corporations are more "people" than Romney, who is probably a robot–the Supreme Court will come to its senses. Otherwise, Obama would have to appoint new justices so that we can take our country back from the corporation "people."

    June 4, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  16. Lisa P

    The funny thing is, the more you see some of those ads the less effective they are. After a while you just start picking them apart and wondering what the sources of their "facts" really are, and how much of the story they are leaving out.

    Walker has been much more effective at controlling the rhetoric and terms of the argument, though. Take this article, for example: limiting collective bargaining rights was really just cover for the biggest cut to education funding in Wisconsin history (supposedly not allowing teachers to sit at the table is a "tool" that would allow the school districts to manage the cuts... as it turns out that claim is, literally, only half right). By the same token, Walker's jobs agenda turned out to be about cutting corporate taxes, limiting consumer protections and enabling the development of environmentally important wetlands. It certainly wasn't about jobs - worst in the midwest, half the annual national rate of jobs creation, worse than Govenor Doyle's last year when we really were just coming out of a recession instead of creating a new one. Why does the media just repeat Walker's nonsense talking points instead of looking at what's really going on in Wisconsin and what this disaster of a Governor has really done?

    June 4, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    I have faith that the good people of Wisconsin will be rid of Walker tomorrow. No amount of money will change the FACT that he lied to the voters when he ran in 2010 and has been doing everything he can to take Wisconsin down.

    June 4, 2012 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  18. just me

    George of the jungle- i hope the people will show big money that he can't buy everything. obama 2012 ---–
    thats true. so let obama know that he doesnt need to raise anymore money for his campaign since all the millions he bringing in won't help him much

    June 4, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  19. James

    From a Republicans' and/or corporate point of view, this isn't money wasted. This is an investment, and like all investments they are hoping for a return of that investment. The overall goal is to make a profit and if this governor is willing to break the unions, then this is a win-win for both Republicans and corporations. Republicans will benefit by damaging the main Democrat voting block. The corporations will benefit by damaging the state's ability to hire employees, hence the state will need to outsource. That is next on the governor's agenda.

    Unfortunately, the disparity in advertisement spending is a bad sign for the anti-Walker group. Walker will probably hold on to his seat. If that happens, you better hold onto yours, he will use that as a mandate to push his radical agenda to the limit.

    By the way, the "Republicans insisted it was necessary to control the skyrocketing costs of public employee benefits and close the budget shortfall." How does barring unions from deducting dues from workers' paychecks and force them to hold a new certification vote every year accomplish that?!?

    This wasn't about saving money, it was about union busting.

    June 4, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  20. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Just because you can spend a lot of money, doesn't mean you're rich. Walker is morally bankrupt!

    June 4, 2012 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  21. dnick47

    I never realized that the people of Wisconsin were so inept. The huge bites to balance the budget and pay back the special interest will come out of your hides. Do not expect the Kohler family or others like them to take any of the hit. You will and then you'll see that all those Reublican promises were just smoke and mirrors as tka e the lash.

    June 4, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  22. Jane

    Two things: 1) despite a SCOTUS that is a wholly owned subsidiary of the wealthy, I pray that the people of Wisconsin will show that integrity and votes can still beat greed and arrogance, and 2) I say to all these millionnaires and billionnaires that are trying to buy power, how about you put it back in your pants, throw away the measuring tape, and use some of that money to help your fellow U.S. citizens? (of course that Vegas millionnaire is an exception because he'd rather be an Israeli citizen than a U.S. citizen anyway.)

    June 4, 2012 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  23. Sanity

    Money well spent!

    June 4, 2012 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  24. fryuujin

    to all the gop drones, please explain how government unions control so much when the PUBLIC votes for the taxes that pay them and the politicians that govern them. there is also a requirement to have a balanced budget so they HAVE to live within the budget – they can not print money or force the public to pay them more!

    these employees didn't invade the USA or come from Mars. the PUBLIC decided and VOTED that they wanted clean water, sewerage disposal, streets, schools, etc. and they wanted government employees. However, now when some jacka** says they are evil mobsters, you chumps want to basically kill all the government employees. Just wait until next election when the GOP will have a new target for their trick message of hate and you'll have forgotten all about public employees

    June 4, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  25. Old Artilley Man

    The billionaires and millionaires are well on the way to buying the nation they want. They will live in gated communities and the only jobs for men will be guarding the gates and driving the rich’s limousines. The only job for women will be nannies for the rich’s children. For the rest of the people you will be no more than a biblical leper on the side of the road.

    June 4, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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