Wisconsin is ranked second in the nation in terms of third party spending in the upcoming senatorial elections, according to Federal Election Committee data.

With the election just weeks away, both candidates have received money from Political Action Committees and organizations outside of the state of Wisconsin. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin spent more money than former Governor Tommy Thompson, the report said.

According to the data, spending from outside parties on the election has exceeded $21 million with Thompson and Baldwin’s current totals almost tied at just over $10 million each. The biggest spenders so far this year include Crossroads GPS, Americans for Prosperity and each party’s respective senatorial campaign committees.
Donald Downs, a professor of political science and journalism at University of Wisconsin, said television is an important part of a campaign candidate’s visibility.

“I think that campaign spending in general has an effect on the public and in terms of dollars spent, the more time a candidate has to spend on television in order to get their message out to the masses does make a dramatic difference in how they are viewed,” Downs said.

Downs also pointed out there is much more money going into this year’s senatorial campaigning than in the 2010 election between then-state Senator Russ Feingold and current Senator Ron Johnson.

According to Downs, several factors contribute to this.

“In this election, you have two new people running and it’s an election year,” Downs said.

With the presidential and senatorial elections happening around the same date, Downs said people are going to be more aware of what is going on and show more interest about the election at the state level.

Another important aspect to take account for, according to Downs, is that Wisconsin is a vital battleground state.

“Both parties are concerned in getting control of the Senate, as they are in all swing states,” Downs said.

As for the side effects of such an intense campaign, Downs said he sees increasing negativity of the campaign advertisements as having different effects on different people.

Downs said for certain individuals, negative advertisements will turn them off. But he said for others, that is what will convince them.

Nathan Conrad, Republican Party of Wisconsin spokesperson, also expressed the importance of Wisconsin as a swing state.

“The U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin is one of the number of targeted senate campaign’s nationwide,” Conrad said.

Conrad also said he believes that the amount of money that is put forward into campaigns can drastically affect the way a candidate is viewed.

According to Conrad, this is possibly why current frontrunner Baldwin is leading Thompson by a slim margin in recent polls.

“Congresswoman Baldwin had a large head start due to her lack of a primary and was able to put out a number of campaign ads,” Conrad said.