NC U.S. Senate race cost at least $38.48 per vote cast

Posted November 5, 2014


— On Monday, we looked at how costly North Carolina's U.S. Senate campaign was per registered voter in North Carolina and elsewhere. 

Now, we can bring you a similar number: how much the Senate campaign cost per vote actually cast.

The answer: $38.48, give or take once provisional ballots are tallied up. 

As with Monday's figure, this number comes with significant caveats. The Center for Responsive Politics keeps a running tally of all spending reported to the Federal Elections Commission. As of Monday, the CRP has documented $111 million in spending on the North Carolina race, nearly $30 million from the candidates themselves. The rest came from outside groups – nonprofits, political groups and others that have had to report their spending. 

That $111 million is a floor, not a ceiling. The candidates have yet to report some of their spending, and some spending by outside nonprofit groups falls outside of reporting requirements. So, the total spending on the race is almost certainly millions of dollars more than what the CRP can document. 

By using CRP data on spending and election returns from Tuesday, we can look at the cost per vote cast in the 12 most competitive campaigns as rated by The Cook Political Report.

Alaska, a state with a relatively small population where it is costly to campaign, is once again the outlier on our list, with $253.81 spent per vote cast. As with the cost per registered voter figure, New Hampshire is No. 2, with $106.20 spent on the Senate campaign per vote cast. 

Of course, some of that advertising went for naught. In North Carolina, more than 25,000 voters who cast a ballot on Tuesday did not make a choice in the U.S. Senate race. 

U.S. Senate campaign spending

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Sources: Campaign spending data from the Center for Responsive Politics. Combined spending includes both money spent by candidates as well as money spent by outside interest groups. Vote totals reported by the Associated Press and state elections officials. 


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  • Kim Schrock Nov 9, 2014
    user avatar

    Can't believe that amount. If the Dems would have offered a pack of smokes and bottle of Ripple they could have saved money and kept the seat.

  • Jim Pomeranz Nov 6, 2014

    Why does the media, especially televisions stations and networks, made such a big deal of the spending? The media is the primary recipient of the dollars. Please tell me how much Capitol Broadcasting received in this campaign. If it's so awful, maybe the money will be donated instead of plowed into the company profits.

  • cjw6105 Nov 6, 2014

    How about telling us the exact dollar amounts spent on each candidate, starting with the one who outspent the other by nearly 3-to-1...........

  • Fred Ost Nov 6, 2014
    user avatar

    $38.48/vote-Just a stupid statement:my vote cost $0..i was uninfluenced by any political add. While not crazy about Tillis, he doesnt live under the devils desk like Hagen.

  • Jeremy Gilchrist Nov 6, 2014
    user avatar

    Welcome to Oligarchy.

  • Jim Buchanan Nov 5, 2014
    user avatar

    Why did it cost me money? It's there campaign, not mine! They raised all the money for it. Pay me for my vote!!!

  • northatlanticstorm Nov 5, 2014

    But how many people were swayed one way or the other by all the spending? All that spending isn't per vote, it's for the very small percent of swing voters who also put credence in political ads. You are likely talking several hundred dollars or more per swing vote.

  • yellow_hat Nov 5, 2014

    Just give me $40 & I'll vote for whomever you want - because at the end of the day - it really does not matter. It has taken me a long time to get to this point, but it is a simple fact. Politicians are only going to do what is in their and their parties best interests. So I'll happily sell my vote.

  • 68_dodge_polara Nov 5, 2014

    I wish they could have just given me that money and told me who to vote for.

    Just kidding...

  • Steven Nov 5, 2014

    That's just sick how much it costs per vote. Big waste of money.