If Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker wins next week's recall election, the big bucks the Republican governor and his allies have spent to run TV commercials will be a contributing factor.
And the ad wars over the recall contest may give Wisconsin a dubious honor this election year.
Walker, Republican Party committees, independent tea party groups and other grassroots fiscal conservative organizations have spent around $8.65 million to run ads in the recall campaign, from November through last week, according to data from Kantar Media/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a company that tracks and estimates the costs of campaign ads running on the air.
That's a considerable amount more than the $5.10 million that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's Democratic challenger, Democratic Party committees and independent progressive groups have spent to run commercials.
In the two week period from May 10 through May 23, Walker and his supporters shelled out around $2.5 million to run ads, including nearly $1.1 million from the governor's campaign, while Barrett's campaign has spent just under $650,000, with the total pro-Barrett spending at around $1.1 million.
"There is intense amount of advertising in the Wisconsin gubernatorial race that is chasing a minute amount of undecided voters. Attitudes are polarized and hardened in the Badger State, but with the contest so close, candidates and their allies have no choice but to go 'all in'. That said, there probably are not a lot of moveable voters at this point," Kenneth Goldstein, CNN's consultant on TV advertising and Kantar Media/CMAG president, said.
Wisconsin voters will cast ballots on June 5th to decide whether to remove Walker from office following last year's bitter battle over his push to limit the collective bargaining rights of state public employee unions.
Walker holds a single digit advantage over Barrett in the two most recent independent polls. According to a St. Norbert College/Wisconsin Public Radio survey released Thursday, 50% of people likely to vote in the June 5th recall election said they supported Walker, the first-term governor, with 45% backing Barrett, who won his party's primary earlier this month, setting up a rematch with Walker from the 2010 election that the Republican won by five points.
A Reason-Rupe poll, also released Thursday, indicated that Walker had a 50% to 42% advantage over Barrett, with 6% unsure.
While the millions spent on ad buys in the recall effort is a lot of money, it's just part of a larger pile of cash being spent to run political ads in Wisconsin this year.
"This advertising campaign in the governor recall contest is actually just a small fraction of what Wisconsin residents have seen and will see this year," said Goldstein, who's also a longtime professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Advertising in the GOP primary for president, recall election primary, and this already - and then Republican Senate primary and competitive races for U.S. Senate and president in the fall. Wisconsin is on track to have the largest number of political ads ever aired in a state."