Half-time Vote Cost Score

Ron Paul is running the least cost-effective Republican presidential campaign, according to an analysis by Major Garrett published at the National Journal.  

The Paul official campaign staffers like to keep repeating the mantra that “it’s all about the delegates,” but how is Paul doing in that contest?  According to the latest Federal Election Campaign reports, votes cast and Republican national convention delegate projections (yes, grain of salt there), we know where we stand about half-way through the presidential campaign.

Money spent by the Republican presidential campaigns:  

Paul has spent $32,766,465.

Mitt Romney spent $66,793,395.

Newt Gingrich spent $19,716,106, and 

Rick Santorum spent $13,023,588.

Total popular votes won (and cost per vote):

Paul: 1,079,753 votes for a cost-per-vote total of $30.35.

Romney: 4,127,917 votes for a CPV of $16.18.

Gingrich: 2,212,001 votes for a CPV is $8.91.

Santorum: 2,850,546 votes for “an amazing” CPV of $4.56.

Of course, as the official Paul campaign staffers like to remind us, it’s not about the popular vote (that Paul is losing so badly) but the national convention delegate vote.  That’s certainly true, and delegate projections vary (though clear-cut in straight primary states, multi-stage caucus states are not), but how cost effective is the Paul campaign on that score?

Total national convention delegates won (and cost per delegate):

Paul: won 66 delegates for a cost-per-delegate total of $496,461.

Romney: 565 delegates for a CPD of $118,218.

Gingrich: 141 delegates for a CPD of $139,830.

Santorum: 256 delegates for a CPD of $50,873.

Factor in some of the Super PAC money, and you get a more complete picture of the cost per vote and cost per delegate:

Paul: Super PAC spending of $3.97 million + campaign spending = a CPV of $34.02 and a CPD of $556,576.

Romney: Super PAC spending of $39.98 million + campaign spending = a CPV of $25.87 and a CPD of $188,984.

Gingrich: Super PAC spending of $19.1 million + campaign spending = a CPV of $17.58 and a CPD of $275,831.

Santorum: Super PAC spending of $7.4 million + campaign spending = a CPV of $7.15 and a CPD of $79,620.

I suspect that this analysis undercounts the unaffiliated spending on the part of the Ron Paul PACs and certainly the grassroots’ independent spending relative to the other campaigns.  I’m not even sure how one could quantify the grassroots’ campaign energy and volunteering which has to be disproportionately higher for the Paul campaign than for his competitors.

Are Paul supporters getting their money’s worth?  Most other analyses don’t give Paul as many delegates.  Let’s be generous and say that he has even more.  At a half a million dollars spent per delegate rate, the Paul supporters would have to chip in $572 million to win enough national convention delegates to secure the nomination.

Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is a definition of insanity.  Perhaps saner minds will bring some changes.  


  1. says

    You obviously do not understand the Paul strategy. You mistakenly believe that the Paul campaign’s primary goal is to win delegates committed to first-ballot support, but that’s not true. Sure, they want as many of such delegates as they can get, but they’ve also been very realistic about their chances in this regard all along.

    Instead, their priority is to gain delegates that support Paul even if those delegates have to support another candidate on the first ballot. The idea is to change the makeup of the delegate population at the Republican convention, and if Romney doesn’t manage to get 1,144, then all bets will be off, and Paul will have far more than just 66 delegates there to support him.

  2. says

    I don’t think the numbers are a surprise to anybody, least of all the Ron Paul people. In a party where (neo)-conservatism, not libertarianism is dominant, the other candidates are swimming with the tide. The Ron Paul campaign is swimming against it.  How many Ron Paul commercials does it take to counter years of listening to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News?  That being said, this type of effort is how you change the direction of the party and bring new voices into it, and that has been main goal of the Ron Paul campaign all along. When Rand runs in 2016, thanks to his father’s campaign, I don’t think he will be swimming against the tide like his father was and the statistics will be much closer to the results of the other candidates.

    PS–The author is supposedly a libertarian, but the idea of “vote buying” in this context is really a leftist-type analysis. Ron Paul supporters in making their donations to the campaign I do not believe were under any illusions about how difficult it would be to take on basically the establishment of the Republican party, nor I do see that Ron Paul supporters have any regrets whatsoever about this effort except that they didn’t do even more for RP.

    • says

      Actually, I’m the owner of the “rag”. I just don’t believe in denying other people the right to freedom of speech, even when I think they’re wrong. Can you say the same? I didn’t think so.

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