Analysis: Up to $137 Per Vote Spent on Luther Strange’s Behalf in AL Senate Race

Luther Strange and Roy Moore
Brynn Anderson/AP/Dave Martin

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — One of the lessons from Tuesday night’s win for Roy Moore in the Alabama U.S. Senate special election primary runoff was that you cannot buy off Alabama voters.

Although the final tally on spending on this election by the candidates’ campaigns and outside groups is not yet in, estimates of expenditures on Strange’s behalf have the number at between $15 million and $30 million from the beginning of the campaign through yesterday.

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange (R-AL) by a vote total of 262,204 to 218,066.

If the $30 million number, given to Breitbart News by Drew Messer, a senior adviser to the Moore campaign, and used by Moore in a speech at his campaign event on Monday night, proves to be the case, $137.57 was spent per vote on Strange’s behalf in his losing effort.

That is not quite the cost per vote spent on Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s sixth congressional district special election in June, coming in at $176 per vote.

It’s also much less than what 2016 presidential hopeful former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) spent on his failed 2016 presidential bid in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, coming in at $2,800 and $1,150 in those states respectively. He later suspended campaign after a fourth-place finish in the South Carolina primary.

Big money lined up for Strange for this election. The Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), spent at least $9 million according to reports. Late in the contest, the National Rifle Association claimed to have committed at least $1 million.

The estimated spending for Moore in this contest was much lower. Estimates have his number at between $1.5 million and $2 million. Alabama columnist and political analyst Steve Flowers noted that in an appearance on Birmingham CBS affiliate WIAT Tuesday night.

Alabama columnist and political analyst Steve Flowers noted the disparity in an appearance on Birmingham CBS affiliate WIAT Tuesday night.

“I don’t think there’s anything that the national establishment could have done any more to help Luther Strange,” Flowers said. “He outspent Moore 15-to-1 — $15 million to $1 million. And he did everything possible — tied himself to Trump, which his national media people advised him to do and wrapped himself around Trump. There’s no way he could have gotten more votes than he got.”

If the high end of the estimated spending on Moore proves correct, which was $2 million, $7.63 per vote will be the tally for Moore.

An analysis of last month’s Republican primary in Alabama had $30.24 per vote spent on Strange versus $1.77 for Moore, who was also the top vote-getter in that contest.

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor


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