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.
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.
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.