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Spending Per Vote: Nelson, Rhoden Mopeds Lose to Rounds Hummer

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*:

Candidate Cash Spent Votes Cash/Vote
Rounds $2,425,135 41,372 $58.62
Rhoden $89,138 13,591 $6.56
Nelson $83,451 13,178 $6.33
Bosworth $1,608,148 4,282 $375.56
Ravnsborg $43,399 2,066 $21.01

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.

Candidate Cash Spent Votes Cash/Vote
Rounds $2,868,392 41,372 $69.33
Rhoden $127,565 13,591 $9.39
Nelson $134,790 13,178 $10.23
Bosworth $1,885,485 4,282 $440.33
Ravnsborg $56,572 2,066 $27.38


  1. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    cory: any way to know how much ravnsborg and bosworth siphoned from the other three?

  2. grainofsalt 2014.06.04

    Bosworth said she raised 2 million dollars and spent it all. I'd love to see an accounting. Why don't I just take Annette at her word? Where is my trust? Hahahahahahaha

  3. grudznick 2014.06.04

    Mr. Rhoden rides a Harley. Wearing his cowboy boots, chaps and hat, none of those sissy leathers and helmet for him.

  4. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    In Pierre, on election day, in the pouring rain, there was construction everywhere. They had guys running cables across the truck bypass and the Fort Pierre bridge taking measurements.

  5. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    I actually meant to post that in the "Voter Turn out Dismal" thread.

  6. grudznick 2014.06.04

    Mr. Rhoden rides his Harley at exactly the speed limit, because the speed limit conforms to him, and he stares unblinkingly into the wind.

    Rhoden laughing.
    Rhoden laughing.

  7. grudznick 2014.06.04

    There were no pink postcards from the Latensloggers against Mr. Rhoden. That's because not only does Mr. Rhoden put anti-Obama bumperstickers on bull hindquarters, he pulls them back off, hide and all.

  8. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    Well, now that the primary is over maybe we can see some real polling.

  9. grudznick 2014.06.04

    Everybody knows Mr. Rhoden puts down the best stringer bead in Meade County, and his rod is stiffer than most and never melts.

  10. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    Take a deep breath, Grudz.

  11. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    We don't need to elect the weak-minded and easily swayed to office. It's time for clear thinkers to lead.

  12. grudznick 2014.06.04

    Mrs. S, the pretty young Dr. has already been locked up. You don't need to fear her anymore. Orange is the new White.

  13. grudznick 2014.06.04

    In Meade County, when there's a terrible accident on SD34 people call 911. In South Dakota, 911 calls Mr. Rhoden.

  14. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    I am woman: join with me.

  15. Nick Nemec 2014.06.04

    Mr. Grudznick, we've known for some time that you have an unrequited bromance with Mr. Rhoden, but please it's getting to be a bit much.

  16. grudznick 2014.06.04

    It's a deep bromance, Mr. Nemec. It may take me some time to heal.

    Mr. Rhoden turned down the job of being the Marlboro Man just so Clint Roberts could do it and be in that beer commercial back there in the day. Larry was 16 at the time, and already had a better mustache than Clint.

  17. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    Well I think you're out of luck unless Rounds gets indicted and you somehow replace him with Rhoden.

  18. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    marry me, bree?

  19. grudznick 2014.06.04

    Mrs. S. Everybody knows that Mr. Rhoden got the second most votes, and he didn't even lie or do robocalls or have Democrat operatives blogging night and day at people.

    If Mr. Rounds gets indicted, Mr. Rhoden is a shoe-in.

    Speaking of which, Mr. Rhoden wears size 13 and a half, wide, cowboy boots. They are not ostrich skin, because everybody knows the actual hard-working, real West-River cowboys don't wear ostrich skin except maybe on holidays.

  20. Lynn 2014.06.04

    Grudz just give Mr. Rhoden a call and let him know your intentions. Don't beat around the bush. A nice dinner with some tasty gravy and taters. Life is too short!

  21. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.04

    It appears grudz goes both ways, his bromance with Rhoden is well known, but remember he has the same affliction for Dr. Bozo.

  22. grudznick 2014.06.04

    Mr. Rhoden doesn't eat just gravy taters for dinner. He eats rare steak. And he eats steak so rare it only comes from minotaurs.

  23. larry kurtz 2014.06.04

    minotaur shoo-in,
    another dead head rhoden,
    britton fields woman.

  24. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    I could stomach Rhoden as a replacement for Rounds. You'd still have a Howie problem, Grudz, even if you completely changed Rhoden's look.

  25. grudznick 2014.06.04

    On November voting day, the GOP needs Mr. Rhoden. Mr. Rhoden can stare unblinkingly into the eye of evil until it goes into hiding, and then the eye of evil sends him a thank you note written on a doily. Mr. Rhoden doesn't use doilies.

  26. Bree S. 2014.06.04

    Yeah, that's a lovely speech but it doesn't get Howie out of the race.

  27. Nick Nemec 2014.06.04

    I'm sure Mr. Rhoden would share a breakfast of gravy and taters with you Grudz, he doesn't seem like a quiche kind of guy.

  28. Roger Cornelius 2014.06.04

    Rhoden is history grudz, accept it.

    Finishing second in a primary is nothing to brag about, it still means Rhoden is a loser.

    Time to get behind your corrupt crony capitalist candidate.

  29. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.06.05

    Grudz, Grudz, Grudz. When you fall in love, you really fall hard. Can I be your best man? I know you won't ask me for my hand. Besides, I'm already betrothed to Blindman, and I'm a one man woman. Sorta.

  30. Gemstone Beads 2014.08.16

    Nelson and Rhoden may also demonstrate that too much fiscal conservatism leads to failure. Yeah, that's a lovely speech but it doesn't get Howie out of the race.

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