Millions for television spots, but not one cent is persuasive

There are elections where money talks – whoever can blanket the airwaves with their carefully crafted propaganda can create an atmosphere, set the agenda, and turn voters, like a herd of sheep, to vote for the preferred candidate of the man with the deep pockets.

The campaign to recall Scott Walker is not one of those elections. Just about everyone made up their mind in February 2011. Those who are going to vote to keep Scott Walker genuinely appreciate what he has done in the past year. Those who are going to vote to replace him, are genuinely horrified by his performance in office. Voters are not going to be motivated by impressions, or atmosphere. Scott Walker’s tenure as governor is going to rise or fall on his record in office.

Money talks when voters are unfamiliar with the candidates. A man with little or no record can spin his own image, if he can pay to get it in front of every couch potato in the state. Scott Walker did that in 2010. Outside of Milwaukee, where he was overwhelmingly disliked, few voters knew much about him, and he didn’t tell them much. He told them what they wanted to hear, and 52 percent of the voters thought it sounded good. He was the fresh youngish face, offered in a year where everyone was feeling politically depressed. He wasn’t called upon to supply any details.

Money talks in Supreme Court elections, because most voters pay little or no attention to what judges are doing on a day to day basis. Creating a “feeling” about the judge, whether it has anything to do with their performance on the bench or not, can win or lose the battle.What Louis Butler did as a public defender had nothing to do with how he would rule as an appellate judge – but Gableman was able to create an atmosphere that “Louis Butler defends child molesters,” and slither into the Supreme Court. It didn’t take a law degree to recognize that the Gableman commercials were blatantly deceptive, but it would have taken some time to sit down and study unfamiliar facts, to see through the barrage of sound bytes. Most voters don’t take that time.

For the past year, everyone in Wisconsin who is even a possible voter has been riveted on what Walker has done, and what his opponents have done. There is no reason to be concerned about how much money the Koch brothers, or Karl Rove, or the United States Chamber of Commerce, are going to pour into the Wisconsin airwaves. Nobody is paying attention. Nobody is going to be moved. Nobody is uninformed. The drama, a real life, high stakes drama, has been playing out before our eyes for over a year now.

The money being spent by advocates of the recall is probably wasted also. Are people unaware that there is a recall campaign going on? Hardly. Are large numbers of voters genuinely conflicted about whether to recall our governor and lieutenant governor? Very few. People who have made up their mind are immune to massive television messages. Of course, if there were NO recall commercials at all, some voters might get the impression the recall campaign was over and “everyone but me seems to like Walker.” If its all over the TV, it must be true, right?

If one side does it, the other side feels they HAVE to do the same. Up to a point, that may be true. But it doesn’t matter how much money is available to either side. This one is going to be decided by the people. There are no sheep this time around. Everyone is awake, and thinking for themselves. No voters are looking for a slick campaign to issue them an opinion.

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