For liberals nationwide, the 2012 election starts this summer with nine recall elections in Wisconsin. For liberals, these recalls aren’t just about Wisconsin; they’re about the country’s very future. It’s a national fight that won’t just set the course for Wisconsin, but the course to congressional and presidential victory in 2012 and beyond.I can't seem to find the detailed report of Nusbaum's contributors yet (here's the GAB3 form which only has a few individuals listed), but I did notice there were lots of conduit contributions from something called ActBlue, which bills itself as an online clearinghouse for Democratic action. So the Wisconsin races have national prominence for a Democratic party still smarting from heavy losses last November (particularly here). Combine that with the fact that there are excellent new tools for efficiently gathering and directing small campaign contributions from lots of donors, contributions that might have gone uncollected in years past, and Nusbaum's fundraising edge isn't all that surprising.
The Chief also hits on something that is a source of Nusbaum's strength and her weakness:
How can Bob Cowles get out-raised as badly as he's been by Nancy Nusbaum? Nusbaum is not someone the Dems plucked out of obscurity: she's a former Brown County executive who ran for congress in 2006 (and lost in the primary), so this ain't her first rodeo.That's exactly right, Nusbaum is well known in the area and has held office in the past. This means that she doesn't have the surprise potential of a relative unknown (unlike the Hansen challenge in district 30) but does anyone in the area really believe Nancy Nusbaum represents a bold progressive vision for NE Wisconsin's future?
Nancy Nusbaum is a proven candidate with a history of public service and name recognition in the area. When the Democrats looked around for someone to challenge Cowles after taking more than a decade off of being competitive in the district, I'm not at all surprised they turned to Nusbaum. It's these very qualities though, that make her appear as little more than a placeholder to voters in the district. On the other hand, these characteristics are largely invisible to the out of state donors who are apt to use a site like ActBlue.
Combine a well-known and safe Democrat in Nusbaum, with a national mood of defiance following defeat at the polls last November, and the technology to gather lots of small (and large) out of state donations quickly and efficiently and the Nusbaum fundraising edge over Cowles really isn't surprising. Whether or not it will be decisive remains to be seen.