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Angle, McMahon led way spending $97 per vote - and lost
Use this interactive to track campaign spending by interest groups and political parties in the 2010 midterm elections.
Campaigns tend to spend most of their money sending out their message to voters, either through broadcast advertising, direct mail or other means. But many campaigns also spend a lot of money raising money, especially if they are using direct mail solicitations.
In the Senate race in Nevada, which attracted outsize attention because of Reid's stature as the top Democrat in the Senate, Angle was able to raise $14 million in one quarter, far more than any of her peers. Angle said in her concession speech that most of the money came from out of state.
The Nevada Senate contest turned into an arms race where neither party could afford to let the other one get an advantage, even if the millions spent on television advertising had little effect after it reached a level of saturation.
"The cost of an ad in L.A. can buy a week of advertising in Reno," said Jim Margolis, Reid's media consultant. "If you were a viewer in Nevada, you were innundated."
Although Reid spent less, he was able to go on the air with advertising immediately after the GOP primary, where Angle, a tea party-backed candidate, bested a former state party chairwoman. Reid's negative ads helped define Angle for voters before she could recover from the primary to get her message out.
The Post analysis relied on campaign finance statistics through the middle of October, and does not account for money donors put into races in the final weeks before Election Day. The dollar-per-vote figures include independent spending by political parties and interest groups through Election Day.
The incoming freshman with the thriftiest campaign was Minnesotan Chip Craavack (R), who beat 18-term veteran Jim Oberstar (D), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Craavack and outside interest groups spent $610,000 on the race or about $5 for every vote he received. Oberstar spent $18 for every vote, or about $2.3 million.
Kyler Nerison, communications director for the Craavack campaign, said the campaign was able to succeed against the incumbent with "just the old fashioned retail campaigning." Craavack spent months driving 30,000 miles through the district, which covers about a third of the state, in an old motor home wrapped with his campaign ensignia.
Nerison described it as "our billboard, our office on the road and our hotel room as well."