LePage wins re-election at Marden’s prices

Candidates for governor are battling for hearts and minds. Sure.

But while they fight with their words, they also do it with their money and other people’s money (which, in American politics, roughly equals words).

Candidates can’t just buy votes (so the review is a bit crude), but it is possible to put a rough price tag on the votes they won.

Those numbers in the governor’s race show that incumbent Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s campaign and outside money from the Republican Governors Association not only won, but got the best deal on Election Day, with the price of each vote at about $20.12.

Independent Eliot Cutler’s high cost per vote, of course, reflects the fact that he half-dropped out of the race toward the end. The high cost per vote tally is due mostly to the fact that he garnered far fewer votes after pulling out of the race.

In total spending (which lumps all campaign and outside spending together), Cutler spent about half as much as groups seeking to elect LePage, who spent just more than half as much as groups seeking to elect Democratic challenger Mike Michaud.

The totals above put any outside spending to support LePage and oppose Michaud into the column of outside spending for LePage (and vice versa). That’s an easy tally as outside groups supporting Michaud or LePage largely ignored Cutler.

Filtering the above chart for just campaign spending, LePage also came out on top by spending the least. Certainly, a good part of that is that he spoke from the bully pulpit and as an incumbent did not need to spend as heavily to get his message out.

Outside groups also got a good deal spending on LePage.

And, in general, the governor’s race panned out for Democrats just like the Maine Senate: loads of spending didn’t hold the fort.

And as BDN blogger Chris Busby pointed out in his post earlier today, the results show that big money doesn’t mean big wins on Election Day.

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.