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How Much Does A Vote Cost In The Race For Conn. Governor? For Lamont, About $18

Frankie Graziano
Connecticut Public Radio
Democrat Ned Lamont vastly outspent his Republican challenger.

This year’s race for governor saw candidates spending a lot of money for each vote cast. Democrat Ned Lamont outspent his Republican opponent nearly two to one.

Lamont’s candidate committee spent nearly $18 for each vote finally cast for Lamont on Election Day.

Republican Bob Stefanowski spent about $9. Neither of those totals include direct spending by PACs.

Lamont ultimately won the election by more than 40,000 votes.

Both candidates were self-funded, with Lamont dumping more than $12 million of his own money into his campaign. On the latest campaign finance report from Stefanowski, the campaign reported spending nearly $6 million, about half of that coming from the candidate himself.

“You have to get your name out there,” said Jonathan Wharton, an assistant professor at Southern Connecticut State University. “It requires a lot of expenditures.”

Wharton said the volume of 2018 political spending isn’t surprising. For one thing, TV ads around here cost a lot.

“You have to pay for the Hartford media market,” Wharton said. “You have the issues surrounding spending money in Fairfield county through the New York media market.”

“Beyond that, you have to hire all these consultants,” Wharton said. “Money has to go toward hiring quite an apparatus for your campaign.”

Credit Patrick Skahill / Connecticut Public Radio
Vote totals for 2018 unofficial as of 11/13/18. Money does not include PAC spending. (Source: Connecticut SEEC/SOTS)

You can view the raw data for Connecticut Public Radio's dollar per vote calculations.

But more dollars per vote doesn’t always equate to a win. In 2010, Republican Tom Foley’s candidate committee spent nearly $23 dollars for each vote -- five dollars more than Lamont -- but he ultimately lost to Democrat Dan Malloy.

“It’s obvious that the Democrats turned to Ned Lamont because I think they felt he had a bottomless well in terms of how much he could devote to this campaign,” said Gary Rose, a professor at Sacred Heart University.

Rose said Stefanowski had to spend more time fundraising than Lamont. And that Stefanowski was more reliant on outside funding from Change PAC, a group backed by the Republican Governors Association.

Change PAC dumped millions into ad buys for Stefanowski, including in the expensive New York media market, during the final days of the campaign.

Still, Rose said Lamont spending about $18 per vote isn’t unusual.

“I think it’s becoming the norm increasingly,” Rose said. “I wouldn’t say these figures are off the chart compared to what we find in other locales and other states.”

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