Money Is Important in Politics, But Not As Important as You’ve Been Told

I’ve taken a lof of heat over the last couple of days, because many lefties are incensed and upset at the Democratic National Committee alleged failure to send $500,000 to support the Wisconsin Recall Walker effort, and I’m not. In fact, I don’t see the point in redirecting funds donated to help us win in 2012 to the state’s effort to fix a mistake they made in 2010. That should be a separate issue, with a separate funding stream.

Once again, the far left is mad at Democrats for not doing what the far left outrage patrol should have been doing all along. I mean, if you knew you needed money to conduct a campaign, why were you not raising it all along? I know for a fact that Recall Walker has been colllecting money, because I've donated; why not just collect more, instead of whining and trashing "the Democrats" again?

This is a crucial election season; a post-Citizens United election season, in fact, in which every dollar raised has to be spent wisely, to take back the House and to keep the Senate, against all odds. It seems to me the people heading the Recall Walker effort should have just assumed that national party money would be hard to come by, and used their impressive grass roots acumen to take the pressure off.

I’m not sure the money is all that necessary, anyway. I know that statement is verging on blasphemy these days, but it's true.

There seems to have developed a “conventional wisdom” on the far left that there is a direct correlation between the money someone spends on an election,and whether or not they win. That’s silly, and there's little evidence to bear that out. People win because they're well known, and voters like them, not because they have a ton of money and run more ads. Mitt Romney has spent tens of millions of dollars over the last seven years trying to get elected, but he barely eked out the Republican nomination against the most ridiculous assortment of cranks to fill out a presidential field. 

While it's true that no money and no name recognition means you’ll never get elected, that’s not the case here. The guy Scott Walker will face June 6 is the same guy he faced 18 months ago. Walker only got 52% of the vote against him the last time, during an election in which the same people who are screaming at the DNC to do their work for them were screaming “Democrats Suck!” at the top of their lungs and helping to secure a teabagger sweep. Since then, Walker has proven to be an absolute disaster, and caused the Wisconsin economy to flounder, while the rest of the country is actually improving. Walker has essentially acted more like a dictator than a governor, and he's demonstrated no regard for the people who live in hs state.

What could be said in a television spot that Wisconsin voters don’t already know? Tom Barrett is a good guy, everyone is familiar with him enough that he got 48% of the vote just 18 months ago. Besides, a recall election is not about selling Tom Barrett; it's about selling that Walker is a disaster. 

And I’m sorry, but the fact that the Koch Brothers and the RNC are pouring money into the race shouldn’t fill you with dread, it should infuse you with glee. They're wasting a lot of money that was probably earmarked to be spent on House and Senate races, which could come back to bite them if Walker loses AND Democrats take back the House and keep the Senate. People don't donate to the RNC, necessarily, to support state recall efforts, Reince Preibus may have something to answer for later. 

If they’re spending that much money, it means their polling tells them Walker is screwed. And if Walker has done as bad a job as Wisconsin Democrats say – and he has – then plastering his face all over the state will actually have a negative effect on Walker, and that should help Tom Barrett win. 

The people of Wisconsin have spent 18 months running against Walker, to the point that they were able to collect over 900,000 valid signatures to recall him. That is an extraordinary number of signatures, and a strong sign that the sentiment against Walker is huge. In a traditional campaign, you’d want to sell Barrett to Wisconsin voters, to be sure. But this isn’t a traditional campaign, it’s a recall campaign; the issue is the terrible job Walker has done, and this gives voters a chance to fix the mistake they made. Wisconsin Democrats aren’t selling “Vote Barrett” this time; they’re selling “Oust Walker.” The 900,000 signatures means most of the work has already been done. There only has to be a swing of 3% for Walker to lose this time, and that should be quite doable via the same methods that were employed during the recall phase. 

Nothing magical happens in politics simply because you have money. Ask those who worked for the campaigns of Ross Perot, Michael Huffington, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, among others. The Recall Walker campaign has enormous momentum right now, precisely because it’s been able to show the Wisconsin public just how bad Walker has been.

Don't make this about the Democratic Party, because it's not. It's entirely possible a large infusion of cash from the national Democratic Party could give the Republicans a chew toy to use to hammer away at Walker's opponents. What better way is there to energize their base than for them to be able to insinuate that "Democrats in liberal Massachusetts are trying to influence an election in Wisconsin." It's the same reason President Obama never went to Wisconsin to back the recall effort. Politically speaking, such moves can have an effect that is actually the opposite of the intention. The DNC might actually be playing smart politics here. The grassroots nature of the Recall Walker movement has done a stellar job on its own, and should continue what works.

This race isn't about money, it's about Scott Walker, and no amount of money can make him look good. Let the Koch Brothers and the RNC throw good money after bad; what the Recall Walker effort has been doing has worked like a charm; there's no reason to believe extra money will make things even better. Ignore the polls and just know that you're doing the right thing. That matters more than money.

Stay the course. It's working. 

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2012 The PCTC Blog


  1. Cutting the crap is so appropriate for liberal-based thinking and this article succinctly slices right through the crap trap laid out by those who intentionally confuse all issues: the so called Tea Party. Thanks for calming those sucked in by the crap trap and I suggest every person caught up in it re-read this well written article each time you feel you are slipping. Post it on your Facebook page and other social media; print it and refer to it often. Whoever wrote this article, please write more!

  2. Thank you! I got some hissy-fit OMG DNC SELLS US OUT!!! email today and deleted it promptly, primarily for the reasons you outline here.

  3. Meg Whitman spent about $170 million on her gubernatorial campaign in California, while Jerry Brown spent about $36 million. People were sick of Meg Whitman by election day, and highly receptive to Brown’s low key message.

Comments are closed.