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From Center reporter Tegan Wendland:
Audio postcard: Voters’ voices

Happy Election Day. Here’s a handy summary of our in-depth money and politics coverage from the past several months:

Most. Expensive. Elections. Ever.

(See our Money and Politics Project stories here and Bill Lueders’ columns here. We’ve also put together a Storify of reporters’ election day Twitter coverage here. )

So did all the money spent on TV ads, mailers, robocalls, live calls and so forth make an impression? Change anyone’s mind? Make people more likely to vote — or less?

Here’s what voters at polls around Madison told Center staffers today about the role of money in politics. We can summarize that, too: They don’t like it.


title=”Ciara Hill” description=”Madison College student, 21. On political ads: “None changed my opinion. They just reinforced it.” Photo: Sarah Karon”>
title=”Marnette and Manny Voeltz” description=”Retired, 60 and 73. Manny: “Too much was spent. About $2 billion too much.”
Marnette: “There should be a cap on campaigning.”
Manny: “They should let them start campaigning two months before the election.”
Marnette: “It’s money and greed. That’s all it is. (When political ads come on) I flip the channel.” Photo: Bill Lueders”>
title=”Damon Smith” description=”Self-employed computer repair person. “Money pays for advertising, as far as elections go, and I try not to pay attention to all the advertising. I try to make up my own mind.” Photo: Bill Lueders”>
title=”Brian Zimmerman” description=”“What makes me mad is the glossy fliers. It was a barrage. I just got so many of them that it made me so mad I almost didn’t want to vote. If I could vote early and they would stop mailing me fliers, then I totally would.” Photo: Kate Prengaman”>
title=”Leslie Poole” description=”UW-Madison student, 19. “I don’t listen to ads at all. I feel like they don’t have any accurate information, and it’s better to watch debates and other sources.” Photo: Rory Linnane”>
title=”Sara De La Torre” description=”UW-Madison student, 18.“I liked the (ads) that had Barack or Michelle speaking directly to us. They talked about Wisconsin, you could see Bascom Hall in the background, and you could tell it was really targeted to us. Seeing him there made it real.” Photo: Rory Linnane”>
title=”Kimayana Johnson” description=”Transport driver, 34. “I’m tired of all of the political ads. I wish all the money they spent on those ads was going to the schools, going to the homeless and going to social services instead of making these irritating political ads.” Photo: Tegan Wendland”>
title=”Deborah Trudeau” description=”Restaurant manager, 34. “I knew who I was voting for from the beginning, so none of the ads really affected me.” Photo: Tegan Wendland”>
title=”Michael Weber” description=”Disabled veteran, 58. “The Romney ads just reaffirmed that I was voting correctly by voting for Barack.” Photo: Tegan Wendland”>
title=”Henderson Gooch” description=”45. “All I know is it’s messed up. The money’s not doing anything for us.” Photo: Sarah Karon”>
title=”Antoinette Neal” description=”Loan processor, 30. “I guess it costs money to run the world, what can I say?” Photo: Sarah Karon”>
title=”Greg Biettler” description=”Network engineer, 44. “I personally have seen an uptick in negative political ads since the Supreme Court decision (Citizens United)… I think that’s when it got really negative… I think going back to individual donations and getting rid of the super PACs would be a huge benefit.” Photo: Sarah Karon”>
title=”Kelly Dulli” description=”Veterinary technician, 28. “It’s upsetting. It bothered me a lot, particularly in the Walker recall, that so much money was coming from out of state, and that those people were determining our election.” Photo: Sarah Karon”>
title=”Precious Dillard” description=”Certified nursing assistant, 23. “Political ads don’t always match (politicians’) speeches, and they definitely don’t always match their actions.” Photo: Mario Koran”>


The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism ( collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

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Kate GoldenMultimedia director and reporter

Kate Golden, multimedia director and reporter, specializes in environmental stories and data visualizations.