by Michael Lowrey
Carolina Journal’s Barry Smith has an interesting article out on the cost of elections in North Carolina. The Kay Hagan/Thom Tillis fight is shaping up to be megaexensive, but it likely won’t be the most expensive race in state history:
Election watchers suggest that, including outlays from candidates, political parties, and independent expenditure groups, more than $75 million could be spent in this year’s U.S. Senate campaign featuring Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis.
But that hardly would be the most expensive Senate campaign in recent state history after accounting for inflation and the growth in state population. Using the $75 million figure to cover all spending, this year’s Senate race is not the most costly in state history.
Despite claims that the costs of elections have grown beyond control, candidates for governor and U.S. senator in North Carolina aren’t spending more to promote their campaigns than they were decades ago. In terms of spending, no statewide campaign has come close to the 1984 mega-race for the U.S. Senate between Republican incumbent Sen. Jesse Helms and Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt. In that campaign, Helms spent $16.5 million while Hunt spent $9.5 million, totaling $26 million.
Accounting for inflation, the Helms and Hunt campaigns spent nearly $60.8 million in 2014 dollars. Dividing the campaign spending by the 2.98 million registered voters at the time, the two contenders spent $20.41 for every registered voter in the state.
In contrast, by November roughly 6.5 million voters will be registered in North Carolina. If $75 million were spent from all sources in this year’s Hagan/Tillis race — which is the amount estimated by Matt Bales, research director at the N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation — $11.54 per voter would be spent.
You can read the rest of the article here. It includes the amount of money spent in North Carolina U.S. Senate races since 1972 and in N.C. gubernatorial races since 1984.