It's actually over.
That may take a bit to sink in, but let it. You — like us, like everyone — have now lived through 485 days since the first major Republican candidate, Ted Cruz, tossed his hat into the ring. Nearly 500 days in which Donald Trump moved from joke to outcast to front-runner to nominee. And as of Tuesday night, the GOP primary contest is officially over, with the Republican Party's nomination of Trump.
The final tally of votes that actually count — those of the delegates — we reported as follows:
- Trump, 1,725
- Ted Cruz, 475
- John Kasich, 120
- Marco Rubio, 114
- Ben Carson, 7
- Jeb Bush, 3
- Rand Paul, 2
Ben Carson got more than twice as many delegates as Jeb Bush — a fact that would have been the second-most surprising thing you could have told people about that list 500 days ago.
Part of the reason that the Carson-Bush fact would be surprising is that Bush started the race in classic Bush fashion, shock-and-awing his way through the fundraising process in an attempt to clear other big-money moderates from the field. But as The Washington Post's Dave Weigel noted in the aftermath of the nomination, that meant that Bush also ended up spending a ton of money with very little to show for it.
We decided to break it down further. We took the amount each candidate (and supporting PAC) raised through May and divided it by the number of delegates earned. That means that also-rans like Rick Santorum and sort-of-rans like Jim Gilmore raised an infinite amount of money for each delegate won, since they won no delegates — and that they are therefore the candidates who collected the most money with the least to show for it. But Bush is not that far behind.
The totals raised per delegate from campaigns and PACs, rounded to the nearest thousand:
- Trump, $39,000
- Ted Cruz, $382,000
- John Kasich, $414,000
- Marco Rubio, $1,120,000
- Ben Carson, $10,853,000
- Jeb Bush, $53,073,000
- Rand Paul, $11,431,000
Instead of spending $53 million per delegate, Bush and his allies could have instead bought 24 one-bedroom apartments in Trump Tower — perhaps a better enticement to lure delegates anyway. (If they want two-bedroom ones, Bush could only afford 15. Sad!)
The thing about political campaigns is that they're often zero-sum. Bush gets essentially nothing for the millions of dollars raised and spent on his behalf. The positive ripple it created is mostly among consultants and local TV stations to whom Bush and his PACs cut checks. What Bush got was three lonely delegates from New Hampshire, wanly casting futile votes on his behalf.
Seems as if that could have been done for less than $53 million a pop.