What is a Vote Worth?


With billions spent during contemporary presidential election cycles, one question that often surfaces is how much a single vote is worth. The answer seems simple. Take the total amount spent on a campaign and divide by the number of votes, right? Using this approach, during the 2012 presidential campaign, the Obama camp spent about $17 per vote, and the Romney team spent just over $20. But the story is much more complicated than this.

The truth is, not all votes are worth the same. In a safe district, a vote is worth less because a campaign will spend less to receive that vote. The same is true of unwinnable districts. Campaigns will not pour money into a fight they can’t win, so these votes are also worth less. These districts tend to be the same, where one camp spends little because the seat is safe, and the other camp spends little because the seat is not really up for grabs.

On the other hand, votes in heavily contested districts or swing states are worth vastly more. If you are a voter in Florida or New Hampshire or North Carolina, your vote is worth much more than a vote in a traditionally red or blue state. Both camps will spend the majority of their advertising budgets on contested states, places in which the vote is actually competitive. The more competitive the location, the more each campaign will put toward advertising in that region, and the more each vote in that location will be worth.

In short, while a candidate might spend $20 on average per vote when you simply divide the total spent by the number of votes, the actual figures depend on where you live, your age and income. If you are a registered voter in Florida, candidates may spend $500-$1,000 per vote. Whereas, in Alabama, just miles from the Florida state line, campaigns may spend less than a nickel per vote. Want more political attention? Move to a contested state or district!

If you are involved in a campaign, track your campaign expenses with the tools provided by Raise The Money and know if you are putting your contributions to good use. With real-time analytics, RTM helps your campaign know what works and what doesn’t. See the impact of your expenditures in real time, and don’t throw your money away on unresponsive demographics. Get started today with Raise The Money.