Daily Bread for 3.15.23: The Wisconsin Supreme Court Race, Three Weeks Out

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 46. Sunrise is 7:05 AM and sunset 7:01 PM for 11h 56m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 45.7% of its visible disk illuminated.

 Whitewater’s Parks & Rec Board meets at 5:30 PM.

 In 44 BC, the assassination of Julius Caesar takes place on the Ides of March.

 The Wisconsin Supreme Court race is a national topic. At the New York Times, Reid J. Epstein reports In Wisconsin, Liberals Barrage Conservative Court Candidate With Attack Ads. Epstein’s reports on the cost of the race and the state of play, three weeks out. 

Ad spending

In the last three weeks, the Protasiewicz campaign has spent $9.1 million on television advertising, and outside groups supporting her have spent $2.03 million, according to AdImpact, a media-tracking firm.

The imbalance on Wisconsin’s television airwaves is even greater than the spending figures suggest.

Because the Protasiewicz campaign is able to buy television advertising at about one-third the rate of independent expenditure groups, she alone has broadcast more than three times as many TV advertisements in Wisconsin as the pro-Kelly groups combined, according to AdImpact’s data.


The election is already the most expensive judicial race in American history, with at least $27 million spent so far on television alone. A 2004 contest for the Illinois Supreme Court previously had the most spending, at $15 million, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

(Emphasis added.) 

More ad spending on the way:

While Justice Kelly promised that the cavalry was on the way, it’s unclear whether it will be enough to turn the tide of the battle.

Only one national organization has spent anything on television to support the Kelly campaign: the super PAC Fair Courts America, which is backed by Richard Uihlein, the conservative billionaire. So far in the general election, Fair Courts America has spent $2.3 million on TV ads. This week, it began a further $450,000 in statewide radio advertising, but the group has not yet committed to investing more in the race, according to a person familiar with Mr. Uihlein’s decisions who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Private polling

Wisconsin’s municipal clerks began placing absentee ballots for the Supreme Court election in the mail this week, and in-person ballots can be cast starting next Tuesday. Private polling conducted by officials on both sides of the race shows Judge Protasiewicz with a lead over Justice Kelly in the mid-to-high single digits. Mr. Voelkel [spokesman for the Kelly campaign Ben Voelkel] disputed that Justice Kelly was trailing but declined to reveal the campaign’s figures.

Three weeks is a long time, and it’s possible to come from behind, as then-judge, now justice, Brian Hagedorn knows from his 2019 campaign.

See also Influence of the Wisconsin Supreme Court Race, On and Off Campus

Albino Deer in Washburn County, Wisconsin:  

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11 months ago

An initial reaction for this reader at least is: Do you KNOW how many people you could feed with those ad expenditures?

It’s hard to be supportive of either candidate in the face of how much more impactful that level of investment could be if directed otherwise.

Reply to  JOHN ADAMS
11 months ago

Regarding impact, wholeheartedly agree. That so much of the scope of ad spending seems to be negative(any number of biases as part of the human condition acknowledged), one would hope that anyone spending that type of money could step beyond hubris to recognize how potentially ineffective they may be:

If there is a relationship between negativity and political outcomes, this relationship is nuanced and conditional. Although negativity may, under certain conditions, have powerful effects on political outcomes, under other conditions the effects of negativity are minimal.”
Although woefully outdated – reasearch article link