The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ben Carson has been spending a ton of money for not a lot of votes

Someone on Twitter pointed out an interesting (tongue-in-cheek) argument for the true victor of the New Hampshire primaries: Jim Gilmore.

Sure enough, the former Virginia governor spiked from 12 votes in Iowa to 131 as of the most recent count -- an increase of more than 1,000 percent. Impressive.

But, weirdly, he didn't actually win on that metric. The biggest percentage increase between Iowa and New Hampshire was seen by John Kasich, who spiked from about 3,500 votes to about 43,600, an increase of 1,100 percent.

After Iowa, we looked at how much the candidates had spent per vote to that point. This is a necessarily incomplete metric, since they spent up until the day of the election but won't report that spending until next month. (The most recent complete data available is through the end of December.) At that point, Kasich had spent $1,500 for each vote in his paltry Iowa showing.

With the giant boost he got in New Hampshire, he's now running one of the most cost-efficient campaigns.

The only candidate who spent less per vote was Mr. Donald Trump, who spent very little through December but who has raked in more votes than any of his competitors, by a wide margin. Donald Trump's vote total after Iowa and New Hampshire is only slightly less than Jeb Bush's plus Ben Carson's plus Chris Christie's plus Carly Fiorina's plus John Kasich's -- and plus Gilmore's 143. Trump's 2015 spending equals about $90 a vote. Kasich's is about $112.

Put visually:

Ben Carson, man.

Carson at one time led in Iowa; he finished in fourth. He wasn't expected to do well in New Hampshire, but he came in eighth, with about half the number of votes earned by Fiorina. He spent a lot of money in 2015 -- a lot of it going to raising money. And for that effort, he's dropped over $2,300 per vote so far. Jim Gilmore is spending money more efficiently than Carson. (And than Bush, we'll note.)

These numbers will fluctuate as we get more spending data and more votes. But the picture of the race is probably not too different than what you might expect at this point: Trump doing great, Carson doing terribly, and a bunch of weirdness in the middle.