Did democracy “die” in Wisconsin on Tuesday?
Within moments of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker being declared the winner of the recall election against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, labor unions, commentators and other talking heads started railing against money in politics. Take, for example, the theatrics of the guy interviewed on CNN, who insisted that “democracy died” on Tuesday because of the infusion of money — some $63 million — into the state to promote or tear down candidates in the race:
Yes, your tears please me. But seriously, this guy could not be more wrong. The Washington Post noted yesterday that outside spending didn’t influence many voters, pointing to exit polling that showed that 88% of voters had their minds made up before May 1st. In other words, as Cato’s John Samples notes, “[b]y the time the ads hit the airwaves, there were few undecided voters.”
And while Walker was able to raise a substantial sum on his own, around $31 million, various Republican and conservative groups came to his aid. Barrett, on the other hand, raised around $4 million, but that’s not the end of it. Big Labor poured in more than $20 million, 75% of which was spent targeting Walker.
Why did Walker win? Maybe, just maybe, Wisconsin voters didn’t despise the guy and are actually pleased with the job he’s doing in the state. While Walker isn’t perfect, many of his reforms are working to help bring the state back from a precarious fiscal situation.
Cry a river about the election if you want, but money didn’t have much to do with Walker beating Barrett. Get over it and move on.