Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The price of winning

MPR News has an article about how much Michele Bachman paid to retain her seat in the United States House of Representatives.  According to the article the cost per vote of winning was $65.19.  Her opponent, Jim Graves, spent $8.70 per vote.  Of course, he lost by 4,297 votes.  Since he could have lost for a lot less than that, I suppose Mr. Graves overspent on his votes.

Although I do not think it was the point of the article, the story made me wonder how much Mr. Graves would have needed to spend to get 2,149 people who voted for Congressperson Bachman to switch to Mr. Graves.  Obviously, it was more than $8.70.  But would Mr. Graves have needed to match the $65.19?  Or Would a lesser amount have worked?  Would it cost more to get those voters to switch?  Given the disparity between the expenditures, one might also wonder whether Bachman campaign was not spending money in an efficient manner.  Was such a large amount per voter necessary after Congressperson Bachman spent most of the summer claiming to be an Iowan? 


  1. My guess is that it would have been much more cost effective for Mr. Graves to spend money trying to get an additional 5,000 people to vote for him rather than trying to actually persuade any Bachman voters to switch sides. The conventional wisdom, apparently, is that get-out-the-vote is by far the best bang for your buck.

  2. I thought of that but I assumed that given the high voter participation in Minnesota (nearly 80%) that further GOTV efforts would be futile. Perhaps a bad assumption. Although given that the Sixth is designed to favor the GOP, it seems questionable that there were 5000 leaning Democratic voters that did not vote.

  3. I think it is more likely that there were 5,000 Democrats who didn't vote in the Sixth than that are 2500 people who actually voted for Michelle Bachman that could have been convinced to vote for a Democrat.

    But perhaps we are both right—and Graves just didn't have a chance.


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