Last updated on 2014.07.28
KELO-TV posts a fun table showing how much each GOP candidate for U.S. Senate candidate spent per vote*:
If you wanted real fiscal conservatism, you should have voted for Stace Nelson. Each vote cost him less than some lunches at McDonald's. Senator Larry Rhoden was pretty frugal, spending just a quarter more than Nelson per vote. Of course, Nelson and Rhoden may also demonstrate that too much fiscal conservatism leads to failure.
It's like gas mileage: getting 90 miles per gallon on the moped is great, until some jerk runs you over in his Hummer and gets to town before you do.
GOP nominee Mike Rounds spent nine times more per vote than either Nelson or Rhoden. For the price of one Rounds vote, Mike could have taken Stace, Larry, Jason, and Annette all to Perkins for a consolation meal.
The economists in our audience will shout something about marginal inputs, but imagine what would have happened if we could rerun the election, keep everything else the same, but put more money in either Nelson's or Rhoden's pockets. Nelson lost to Rounds by 28,194 votes. To close that gap and get one more than Rounds, Nelson would have needed to spend just $178,547.65. I say "just" with a grin, recognizing it was hard enough for Stace to raise what he did, never mind tripling that amount to beat Rounds. But with the average cost of winning a U.S. Senate seat over $10 million, $179K doesn't seem like much.
Similarly for Rhoden: he lost to Rounds by 27,781 votes (you can hear the Union Center "neener neeners!" aimed at Nelson echoing across the Plains). If his per-vote price held, he could have beaten Rounds by spending $182,211.16.
The other challengers faced a harder climb. Jason Ravnsborg needed over 39,000 votes to close the gap. At $21.01 a pop, that would have been $826,000 in additional campaign spending. And Annette? Oh my. Losing by more than 37,000 votes, at $376 each, she would have needed nearly $14 million just to catch Rounds and win the primary.
Update 2014.07.28 13:30 CDT: Here are those per-vote dollar figures, updated with the Q2 FEC reports showing operating expenditures through June 30. Rounds's figures will be a bit inflated, since the primary victor's expenditures will include money spent after the primary to promote his general election campaign.