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Could Campaign Cash Help Tom Barrett?

- May 31, 2012

In the new Marquette Law School poll, there is this finding regarding the gubernatorial recall election:

bq. Walker holds a 51 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable image among voters, with just 3 percent unable to give an opinion. Walker’s job approval rating is similar, with 51 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval. For Barrett, 41 percent have a favorable opinion to 46 percent unfavorable, while a larger 11 percent are unable to give an opinion.

Emphasis mine.  Tom Barrett is a less familiar figure to Wisconsin voters than is Scott Walker.  This suggest to me that campaign spending on his behalf could help close the gap between Walker and him.  Such spending has larger effects when voters are less familiar with a candidate.  Moreover, voters are less likely to vote for a candidate they don’t feel that they know.

Walker has outspent Barrett by about 2-1 in the past few weeks.  National Democrats, after initially refusing to send money, seem to have stepped up their efforts on Barrett’s behalf.  If I were advising Walker, I’d tell him to keep doing what he’s been doing: further spending on his part might counteract any additional spending in support of Bennett.  If I were advising the Democrats, I tell them to send more money to Barrett.  I’m not sure whether further spending on Barrett’s behalf would swing the race in his favor, but these polling data suggest that he could benefit.