A common axiom in politics is that the more money you spend in a campaign, the more votes you’re likely to get. However, as Tuesday’s 1st District primary has demonstrated, that isn’t always the case. The biggest spenders went home empty-handed.
In the 2010 GOP primary for the 1st Congressional District, candidates spent a total of $2,510,269 according to Federal Election Commission filings. With 98,569 votes cast, candidates spent $25.46 per voter in total, or $3.73 per constituent. Common expenditures are campaign consultant fees, media buys, direct mail pieces, administrative expenditures, rent for offices, staff salaries, legal advice and other miscellaneous expenses like gas and food.
Looking at the numbers by each candidate, however, makes an interesting case about who got the most bang for their buck.
Tim Huelskamp, the winner of the primary, had the third highest level of expenditures at $585,610, or $5.94 per voter. He received 34,283 votes, and carried 44 of the district’s 69 counties. Compare this to Jim Barnett, who came in second, but spent $723,695, or $7.34 per voter. However, he was only able to take 24,724 votes, and only won 11 counties. In fact, Tracey Mann, who came in third in the primary, and fourth in spending, was able to carry two more counties than Barnett. Marck Cobb did not have to file FEC reports and got 1,734 votes.
However, when looking at investment versus return, the most striking comparison can be found between Sue Boldra and Rob Wasinger.
Wasinger spent $674,601 in the primary, or $6.84 per vote. Yet, he was only able to get 9,170 votes, carrying no counties. Boldra, by comparison, spent $34,638, or 35 cents per voter, and won 7,734 votes, taking two counties. The spending difference between the two was $639,963, but only 1,436 votes separated them.