One of the claims being made about Wisconsin is that it represents a lesson about how money, post Citizens United, is now purchasing elections. That seems like a potentially serious concern no matter where you sit: even if you're entirely sanguine about the effect of money on elections (taking fundraising capacity as a sort of proxy for competence), it makes it hard to draw lessons for the November race because the Romney/Obama contest likely will be on fairly even terms.
However, looking around at the numbers being floated today, I'm not sure what lesson to draw. Here are some things being reported:
1) $63.5M total was spent on the elections, with $22M coming from outside superPACs. Union money amounted to around $5.5M, although the wording of the story makes the precise figure a little unclear. There was an eight-to-one advantage for the Republican candidate for governor over the Democrat.
2) Big Labor spent $21M on the elections. Democrats and their backers spent $23.4M, with "outside groups" who were against Republicans spending $18.6M. I'm not clear from the wording here whether that 18.6M is out of the $23.4, or additional.
3) $44M total was spent on the elections, with Democrats outspending Republicans $23.4M to $20.5M. There was a Democratic advantage even on outside spending, with outside Democrat-leaning money coming to $18.6M to Republican outsiders $15.9M.
There's a big difference in the lessons to learn here, depending on whether story 1 is correct, or story 3 is correct. Story 2 shares some figures with story 3, but that may be simply because they are sharing sources. Until we know what number set is correct, it's hard to judge what the lesson is. It could vary from "having more money is the main thing" to "having more money didn't help."