Per caucuser costs

So, what is this US election costing? I got to wondering this Wednesday night while listening to the news. I thought I could find some data. Sure as shooting, I got an inkling. Here’s an a priori estimate from (bills itself as a bi-partisan Web site):

Each presidential candidate, on average, could spend anywhere from $1,674,000.00 to $5,022,000.00 just to ensure a finish within the top half of the Iowa Caucuses. With an approximate total of 20 candidates representing both parties, the total amount of spending by the candidates for the Iowa Caucus could reach as high as $23,436,000.00 and beyond $30,132,000.00 – and this is a conservative estimate.

Candidate Amount Spent Focus State
Governor Bill Richardson $2 million Iowa and New Hampshire
Senator Barack Obama nearly $2 million mostly in Iowa
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton $940,000 mostly in Iowa
Senator John Edwards $13,000 ?
Senator Christopher Dodd $450,000
Governor Mitt Romney ~$8 million ?

For another perspective, here’s what I learned from a story published last fall in the New York (NY, US) Times. Julie Bosman wrote that the candidates were spending 100s of $1000s on advertising. In the early October story, Ms. Bosman reported that the various candidates had spent the amounts shown in the table at the right.

More recently, CNN repoted that “Iowa’s 2.3 million eligible voters have been bombarded with close to $40 million worth of political ads on television this cycle.” And, CNN gets to the point that wondered me. How much is that per voter?

Well, CNN uses the total number of voters in Iowa. But, as I understand from a story on NPR, only a few 100,000 people are likely to turn out for the caucuses. If it’s 400,000 at the caucuses and the cost is $40 million, why that’s just $100 a vote.

Just goes to show a lot of things, but one of them is that them’s whose got $$, they got free speech.

Links:; Ms. Bosman’s NY Times blog entry; CNN.


  1. 3 Jan AM: Dan Morain of the Los Angeles Times has an article about the topic.
  2. 4 Jan AM: NPR reported this AM that ~220,000 and ~130,000 people showed up for the Democratic and Republican caucuses, respectively. So, if the costs were $35 million, then the $100 per vote holds up pretty well. And this is just the first primary. Sheeesh…Care says that $.28 will buy a meal for a hungry child; just using 1% of that campaign $$ and figuring $0.35/meal yields 1,000,000 meals for hungry children. I know electing a president for the US is important, but is it that important?

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Filed under Amusements, Civil rights, Equity, News, Notes and comments, Politics

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