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Campaign 2012 - Part 5 (Cost Per Vote)

How much did each candidate spend for each vote they received?

There’s been a lot of discussion about the huge amount of money spent this year in our City Council election. At $121,430.49 we have exceeded the total for any previous year, and we only have the spending through October 20. Expect the final total to be well past $150,000.

Previously I noted the close association between the amount of money spent and the results. The previous all-time record setter, Scott Voigts, came in #1 in 2010 followed by the #2 all time spender, Peter Herzog. Howzit in 2012? Exactly the same. The #1 spender was Adam Nick and he came in #1. The #2 spender was Dwight Robinson and he came in #2. And the #3 spender, Terry Anderson, came in #3.

In 2010 the average cost per vote was $2.04.  Voigts spent the most, with 11,332 votes for $37,763. That’s an average cost per vote of $3.33. The low cost vote getter was Cathy McCullough, who spent only $0.75 for each vote she received.

In 2012 the average cost per vote has gone up from $2.04 to $3.50 (and that’s based on the incomplete data). That’s an increase of at least 72%. Nick spent the most per vote, at $5.00. If you factor in the money spent by the Republican Party of Orange County to Nick’s figures, then his cost per vote was closer to $7.00 per vote, which is more than twice as much as Voigts spent in 2010.

Here’s the rest of the cost per vote figures for the candidates in 2012. Bear in mind that Carrell didn’t file his FPCC required forms so we don’t know how much he spent.

• Nick - $5.00
• Robinson - $4.24
• Zechmeister - $3.84
• Anderson - $3.71
• Rudolph - $1.54
• Gardner - $1.02

These are preliminary figures. The final vote total is yet to be determined, although it will be more or less in this range. The final expenses must be filed by December 31, and will undoubtedly be much higher, so consider these preliminary figures low ball estimates.

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Andromeda November 08, 2012 at 02:09 AM
It's really time for campaign spending reform. The intention of elections is to elect those who are best qualified to represent the interests of the voters. When the highest bidders consistently win the elections it just doesn't smell right. Level the playing field. Put a campaign spending limit on each office. Elect the man. Not his pocketbook. Fair enough?
MisturChips November 08, 2012 at 10:13 PM
I wish I had been able to attend a public Q&A session where all candidates were present. having the 'gut feeling' for a person would have helped my vote considerably. Humans are more than the sum of their numbers, don't you think?
Jim Gardner November 08, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Hi Chips, In past years Cox used to record debates and then broadcast them. They were educational. I don't know why they discontinued doing it this year. At the forum at Lake 1, there was someone videotaping the debate and I tried to find out what happened to the videos because I wanted to put them on my website. But I couldn't find out who had done it. They were remarkable. At this stage there is no point in giving you a summary, although various people did on The Patch the next day. But there is nothing like viewing them yourself. Since Cox is no longer interested in doing this, I'm going to suggest that the City use their video capabilities to host a debate in Council Chambers and put it on line just as they do with the Council meetings. I'm going to suggest further that they do it in mid September, before people get their absentee ballots. Since about half the people vote absentee, there's no point having a broadcast in mid October if you want to reach all the people. While I've got my "suggestion hat" on, I'm going to suggest that the City put up an opinion poll on their website and get a list of what the important issues are for people at the time, and then be sure that these issues are covered in the debate.
MisturChips November 08, 2012 at 10:59 PM
Are the council meeting live-streamed? If so, I'd have a better chance of seeing what's on the screens and such than when in the chairs....
Jim Gardner November 08, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Hi Andromeda, Good idea in theory, but it won't stop the PAC advertising. Usually in Lake Forest we haven't had much advertising apart from the candidates' own committees, but this year we saw two groups use attack ads to advance their candidates and diminish two other candidates. These were successful. The people they attacked came in 3rd and 5th and the people they endorsed came in 1 and 2. With this kind of result, you can expect more of the same next time, and the "campaign spending limit" you proposed won't impact this. We have the same problem at the state and federal level. So while I think it's a good idea in theory, I'm not sure it will accomplish much in reality.
Jim Gardner November 08, 2012 at 11:03 PM
We're not talking about Steven Spielberg here. The video broadcast of the council meeting is pretty basic stuff. They'll be no awards. But you got me thinking that if the City does broadcast the debate, they probably want to use a more professional crew.
Andromeda November 08, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Yes, I was at the Candidate's Forum and watched from start to finish. A video made available to the public on-line would have been quite revealing. Personally, I can say that I was thoroughly disgusted by some of the behavior that I observed. And the people who I sat around expressed the same sentiment. I walked out of the auditorium shaking my head. And I'm still shaking my head today in disbelief. Let me just say that we should never allow money to buy elections. If PAC spending is the problem then there should be limits on PAC spending. Whatever it takes. Our Founding Fathers would never approve of the way our elections are bought and sold in 2012. And whenever I have a question about how our current political system operates I always ask myself "What would our Founding Fathers say?"
Jim Sparks November 09, 2012 at 07:19 PM
It will all change in the future. Each year Baha'i's are elected throughout the world without any campaigning and at no cost. Eventually everyone will be emulating their system. Jim Sparks

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