When all the numbers are in and analyzed by campaign spending watchdogs, the 2010 midterm political spending total is expected to eclipse all previous records and surpass $4B in all. But the results of the elections show that big spenders are not always big winners.
Former eBay executive Meg Whitman grabbed headlines all year long in her relentless and largely self-funded pursuit of the California governorship as Republican nominee. But she was a mere also-ran in terms of dollars spent per vote received, according to a study by the Washington Post.
That honor went to Nevada Republican senatorial candidate Sharron Angle, who spent over $97 per vote. The vast size of California made that ratio almost an impossibility for Whitman.
Angle’s vast warchest, considering the sparse population of Nevada, was fueled by the identity of her opponent. The unhorsing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brought millions of dollars into the state from all directions. Reid had amassed a large warchest well in advance of the elections in his own right and also benefitted from outside contributions and support, but wound up spending considerably less per vote received. WaPo put his price per vote at about $69.
Closely behind Angle was the candidate who also trailed Whitman in the self-funding derby – Connecticut Republican senatorial contender Linda McMahon, who’s spending also rounded out to $97 per vote but who WaPo said was about a half a dollar per vote behind Angle.
Even though the most spectacular big-spending flameouts were Republican, on average, Democratic House incumbents who went on to lose seats in this cycle did so while outspending their challengers.
According to WaPo, Republican Chip Craavack defeated a Democratic committee chair, 18-termer Jim Oberstar (D-MN), while spending only about $5 per vote. That was less than a third of the $18 per vote Oberstar spent.
RBR-TVBR observation: The fact that the big-spending campaigns of both Whitman and McMahon failed despite the presence of extremely favorable Republican tradewinds at their back may make rich candidates think twice about dipping into their own bank accounts to make the move into politics. But the general influx of cash figures to continue to grow.