The recalls underway in Wisconsin present an interesting opportunity to compare two forms of democratic participation: signature gathering and campaign contributions. Both have raised questions about what constitutes valid exercises of democracy and representations of the people’s will. With open records laws in Wisconsin, it’s relatively easy to see who is contributing time or money to either process. Petition circulators can come from anywhere in the USA and so can campaign contributions.

Here’s an initial look at the recall effort against Senator Scott Fitzgerald compared to his 2010 campaign contributions. On the left are the mapped addresses of each recall petition circulator (with the size of the circles indicating the relative number of signatures collected); on the right is Fitzgerald’s campaign contributions (with the size of the circles indicating the relative size of campaign contributions):

Recall versus contributions
Link to larger interactive maps (may take a while to load)

While we could perform statistical analyses on distance-weighted averages, standard deviation ellipses, or the like, the distributions are fairly clear. Unlike most of Fitzgerald’s campaign contributions, most of the petition circulators come from his own district — his own constituents collected the vast majority of the signatures to recall him.

Data sources: petition circulators from Karen Tuerk via the GAB; campaign contributions from Wisconsin Democracy Campaign database

Full disclosure — my wife, Lori Compas, organized the recall effort in Fitzgerald’s district.


  1. Please do the same for the Walker recall (if you have the time). It is amazing to see where the money comes from. And for Scooter it will be even a wider net.

  2. Cool map. His support is national/conservative but his opposition has to live with his choices. Interesting that not all petition circulators are from his district.

  3. I see Jim Walton of Bentonville Arkansas sent Fitzie a nice check.

  4. Very cool maps. I couldn’t use the interactive map for the petition circulators, though because permission was denied for data. Doesn’t much matter, of course, because I doubt there were too many petition circulators from Florida, for instance.

  5. Hope these maps are used as a commercial!

  6. Great use of data. Very telling. Thanks.

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