Midterm elections: Were the billions spent worth it?

This year’s midterm elections are shaping up to be record-breaking for several reasons. More women have been elected to Congress than ever before, and voter turnout was at an all-time high. But it was also record-breaking for the sheer amount of money spent. The numbers are still being tallied, but according to the Center for Responsive Politics, we are on track for an election cost of more than $5 billion.

As the dust settles and the final votes roll in, many are asking: was it worth it?

The short answer is… it depends. Democrats spent $801 million to take back the House — a good bit more than the $547 million spent by Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Currently, it is forecasted that Democrats will walk away with 229 House seats, a net gain of 34 seats.

But in the Senate, Republicans not only kept control but managed to pick up several seats. Democrats also outspent Republicans here: $459 million to $342 million.

Those numbers are also reflected in some of the more expensive races run this election cycle.

RELATED: Take a look at the midterm election night in America: 

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Midterm election night in America 2018
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Midterm election night in America 2018
A rainbow forms over the U.S. Capitol as evening sets on midterm Election Day in Washington, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic Texas U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Beto O'Rourke is accompanied by his wife Amy as he concedes to Senator Ted Cruz at his midterm election night party in El Paso, Texas, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis celebrate during his midterm election night party in Orlando, Florida, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams speaks to supporters during a midterm election night party in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom hugs his wife Jennifer as he celebrates being elected governor of the state during an election night party in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic congressional candidate Ilhan Omar is greeted by her husband’s mother after appearing at her midterm election night party in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Miller TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez reacts after appearing at his midterm election night party in Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott holds the hand of grandson Auguste Guimard as he waves to supporters at his midterm election night party in Naples, Florida, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer reacts with her daughters, Sydney (L) and Sherry after declaring victory at her midterm election night party in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A supporter of Trump and Republican senate candidate Mike Braun attends the election night party in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Bergin TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Deidre Brown Collins holds her daughter, Vitalia Collins, as they watch returns during a midterm election night party for Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters of Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz hold signs at his midterm election night party in Houston, Texas, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Cathal Mcnaughton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters of Democratic Florida gubernatorial nominee and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum react as they listen to him concede the race to U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis at Gillum's midterm election night rally in Tallahassee, Florida, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Lawrence Malloy, a supporter of Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, shows off socks adorned with an image of Abrams outside the site of a midterm election night party in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Supporters await the arrival of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at a Democratic U.S. midterm election night party in Washington, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reads results of the U.S. midterm elections as she talks to an aide backstage at a Democratic election night rally and party in Washington, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Bobby Mines waves an American flag outside a polling place in Chapmanville, West Virginia, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Lexi Browning TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Voters cast their midterm election ballots at the Santa Ana Methodist Church in Santa Ana, California, U.S. November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. Democratic Congressional candidate Deb Haaland, who is trying to become the first Native American woman in the U.S. House of Representatives, hugs Dottie Tiger at a Native Vote Celebration on midterm elections night in Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S., November 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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The House

Democrats spent the most trying to ensure a victory in the House. Considering all 435 seats were up for grabs, Democrats spent an average of $1.8 million dollars on each seat. But some races were more expensive than others.

In Maryland’s 6th district, Democrats spent more than $15 million to ensure a victory for David Trone. His opponent, Amie Hoebar, spent less than $1 million.

Further south, Abigail Spanberger was able to flip Virginia’s traditionally conservative 7th district over incumbent Republican Dave Brat. Her campaign shelled out $5.3 million, compared to Brat’s $1.8 million.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, 89% of House races were won by the biggest spender – a pretty good record.

The Senate

But in the Senate, Democrats faced bruising losses.

The spending margins were narrower in the Senate race. That may be a good thing for Democrats. Republicans not only kept control of the Senate, but are projected to walk away with 53 seats, a gain of 2 seats since the last elections.

In Texas, Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic fundraising darling, spent a dizzying $59 million in his bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz spent $33 million and managed to hold onto his seat.

Missouri’s Claire McCaskill faced a brutal loss to Republican Josh Hawley after spending more than $33 million to stay in the Senate. Hawley massively underspent in comparison, shelling out only $7 million to defeat her.

But in Florida, the second most expensive Senate race, incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson was both outraised and outspent by his Republican challenger, former Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson’s team still shelled out more than $25 million in the hopes of retaining his seat. Scott won that race after spending more than $66 million on his bid.

Nelson has called for a recount of that race, due to the less than half a percentage point difference in votes. 

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