How Much Did Money Matter in the Wisconsin Recall?

Seth Masket:

So there’s your money effect, folks. Go from a 2:1 money advantage to a 7:1 money advantage, and it could increase your vote share by a full percentage point! Woo hoo!

4 Responses to How Much Did Money Matter in the Wisconsin Recall?

  1. Melinda June 7, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    I really don’t see how the money question is separable from other effects. For example, apparently some large number of Wisconsin voters opposed recall on principle and voted accordingly, which would also suggest that money had less of an impact than expected. On the other hand voters now had two years experience of Scott Walker and some of what he did during those two years was sufficiently repulsive to many Wisconsiners/Wisconsinites/Wisconsonians to get enough support for a recall in the first place. I think the actual answer, in the absence of a lot of additional data, is “We can’t tell.”

  2. Andrew Gelman June 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm #


    I really really really don’t like this sort of snappy “woo hoo” reply. There’s been a lot of research showing that money matters in campaigns, but more so in nonpartisan contests such as referenda and less so in highly partisan contexts. In any case, I think that’s the way to address such questions. Not by taking a single before-after comparison and treating it as a causal effect. That’s just sloppy and, I think, contrary to our larger goals at the Monkey Cage.

    • Al June 7, 2012 at 11:01 pm #

      Thanks for this comment, Andrew. As a regular reader of the blog, this post really surprised me. I’m used to getting my glib from elsewhere.

  3. QS June 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

    Not to mention that 1 percentage point (and less) has decided some rather important elections.