On Tuesday, Wisconsinites voted to keep Scott Walker (R) in his gubernatorial seat. While pundits and politicians are drawing a number of lessons from the recall campaign (the third in U.S. history and the first in which the incumbent retained his post), one lesson in particular stands out like a badger in a grass field: Money has too big of an influence in politics in this post-Citizens United world.
Candidates and independent groups spent a total of $63.5 million dollars on the recall campaign, an amount that far surpassed the previous Wisconsin record of $37.4 million, which was set in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Of the $63.5 million, Governor Walker’s campaign raised $30.5 million, two-thirds of which came from contributors outside of Wisconsin. In contrast, the Democratic contender, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, raised only $4 million since he entered the race in March. These numbers boil down to Walker having more funds by a margin of 7.5 to 1. Moreover, $22 million of the spending in the race –that’s one-third of the total amount of spending—came from independent expenditure groups that would not have been able to contribute if it wasn’t for the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.