February 5, 2016

Spending on legislative races dropped in 2012 cycle

A new report from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign shows there was less money than usual spent on state legislative races last fall. The analysis shows that in the fall campaign cycle, candidates and outside groups spent about $16.53 million, down from $19.25 million during the 2010 legislative elections.

WDC executive director Mike McCabe says a likely factor in the spending drop during the fall contests was the recall elections over the summer. In the races targeting the governor and several state senators, $93 million was spent. McCabe says that likely meant there was less money to go around once the November elections rolled around.

Legislative redistricting also played a role, with fewer competitive districts in play. McCabe says the most activity came in several key Senate races, as Republicans worked to reclaim the majority they lost in the recall elections over the past two years. Spending by candidates and outside groups topped $2 million in hotly contested Senate races in the 18th and 30th districts.

Despite having less money to spend in the fall, McCabe says incumbent state lawmakers still had quite an advantage over their challengers. Current office holders spent twice as much as their challengers, while the winning candidates in 89 percent of legislative races outspent their opponents.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:13)

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