Green Room

No, Dems were not outspent 7 to 1 in Wisconsin

posted at 9:53 am on June 7, 2012 by

Politico’s Glenn Thrush is the poster boy for hackery rationalizing Gov. Scott Walker’s victory in the WI recall election:

There’s really only one story in Wisconsin, though you wouldn’t know it from the high paragraphs of most news analyses. It’s M-O-N-E-Y.

Cash doesn’t talk in 2012, it shouts, and Wisconsin was a sonic boom that’s breaking glass in Chicago.

Conservative groups outspent unions and progs in Wisconsin by an estimated SEVEN-TO-ONE.

You’ll find less shouty, but still misleading, versions of this all over the media, e.g., Reuters, NPR, and the WaPo’s Greg Sargent (who is shockingly more accurate at the margin on this one). They are all following the lead of Obama campaign flack Jim Messina, who is trying to raise money off the claim that conservative groups “were willing to spend nearly EIGHT times as much money as the Democratic candidate and his allies raised.”

These claims, depending on the phraseology, range from misleading to flatly false, even based on the sources from which the claims are made.

The spending story stems from a release by the liberal Center for Public Integrity, which took based its analysis on data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (ostensibly nonpartisan, but a past recipient of Soros money and the sort of group whose director told CPI the spending was “outrageous and wrong”). However, according to that data, when you combine the spending of the candidates and their supporting groups, the gap shrinks to 2-to-1.

Moreover, it is a fair bet those figures do not include all of the money spent by left-leaning groups on all candidates in the recall.

Indeed, it should be underscored that the left/media here is focused entirely on spending in the gubernatorial recall, when this election was just one of many the left attempted to turn into referenda on Gov. Walker’s public-sector collective bargaining reforms. If once considers the total amounts spent during the Days of Cheesehead Rage on state senate recall elections, Supreme Court elections and so on in 2011-12, the gap shrinks to roughly 1.5-to-1.

Lastly, these figures only account for sums legally required to be publicly reported (and assumes those sums are properly quantified). Rutgers University economist Leo Troy has estimated that actual union political spending is likely several times higher than generally reported. There is no reason to think otherwise in this case.

In short, it is not clear the left was outspent in its attempts to reverse Gov. Walker’s reforms. And the widely-repeated claim that the left was outspent by more than 7-to-1 in the most recent recall election is clearly false.

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Excellent article, Karl.

MadisonConservative on June 7, 2012 at 10:03 AM

The dollars are the tip of the iceburg. Is there any way to even estimate how many taxpayer-funded hours “civil” “service” “workers” spent on this campaign?

logis on June 7, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Owebama outspending McCain and winning= Supportive Mandate!

Walker outspending Barret and winning= Death of democracy; buying an election!

Minnfidel on June 7, 2012 at 10:13 AM

Thanks for contradicting all the Democrat whining.

WannabeAnglican on June 7, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Here’s the problem. “Democrats outspent 7-to-1 in recall election fight” is a one sentence headline that is easy to understand and that the public can see and grab hold of. However, an article like this, well-written as it is, loses the average reader’s attention after about 3 sentences.

And that is what the big problem for Republicans always is. Democrats throw out a red meat claim that is easily digested and understood, but also patently false. However, it takes effort to explain why it’s false, and we live in a sound bite society that doesn’t want to spend more than 15 seconds on a news story. And they tune out the “here’s why that’s false” reply.

That’s always been a major disadvantage for Republicans.

Shump on June 7, 2012 at 10:57 AM

And the widely-repeated claim that the left was outspent by more than 7-to-1 in the most recent recall election is clearly false.

Pretend, for moment, that it is true. That brings up the question, “Why?” Why weren’t the Democrats supporting the recall effort? Why didn’t the DNC contribute? If you’re going to pick a fight, at least be prepared for it.

kbTexan on June 7, 2012 at 11:00 AM

These claims, depending on the phraseology, range from misleading to flatly false, even based on the sources from which the claims are made.

How do you know when a Democrat is lying?

When their lips are moving.

farsighted on June 7, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Regardless of who spent what, after 18 months of non-stop wall-to-wall local and national news coverage of what happened in Wisconsin is it possible that anyone other than the stupidest or most apathetic residents of Wisconsin did not know exactly what had happened, what the issues were, what was at stake, and where Walker and his opposition stood?

The Dems are blowing smoke and parading shiny objects around, attempting to con and distract people who do not live in Wisconsin about what actually happened in Wisconsin.

Or to put it briefly, they are knowingly and deliberately spreading falsehood. That is, they are lying.

farsighted on June 7, 2012 at 12:09 PM

This spending whining is like walking in to a roadhouse and calling out the big dude. So he kicks your butt, hands you your hat, and tosses your sorry carcass into the parking lot. Then you complain that he cheated in the fight you started.

The women around here won’t be impressed.

WestTexasBirdDog on June 7, 2012 at 1:06 PM

The Left and the MSM have no problem criticizing the political advertising spending by the GOP, yet, they don’t criticize the One for his choice to forego federal campaign funds in 2008 and his goal to raise $1 Billion for his campaign this year. Again, the outcome and the process are only fair if your side wins.

HoosierStateofMind on June 7, 2012 at 1:58 PM

And how much did Obama spend on getting elected in 2008?

Even if Walker spent $30 million to avoid getting recalled, Wisconsin taxpayers had a $3.6 billion deficit turned into a $0.1 billion surplus. They got a 120-fold return on their investment in keeping Walker in office.

A lot better than national taxpayers got on their investment in Solyndra!

Steve Z on June 7, 2012 at 2:01 PM

WestTexasBirdDog on June 7, 2012 at 1:06 PM


batterup on June 7, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Walker had significantly more cash on hand in this round than he did in the previous round and I think the more interesting outcome of the recall is that despite the extra cash spend his hare of the vote only increased 1%. Money matters but it seems only to matter up to a certain point.

lexhamfox on June 7, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Well, so, when Obama outspends Romney 2-1 or 3-1 or whatever it will be, that will be unfair, a travesty, a corruption of the political process, an abuse of politics, a menace to the voters, to freedom, to truth, right, and the American way.


J.E. Dyer on June 7, 2012 at 5:53 PM

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Comments have been closed on this post but the discussion continues here.

Allahpundit on June 7, 2012 at 10:57 PM

Nicely done.

James OK on June 7, 2012 at 7:20 PM

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