Former U.S. attorney Jenny Durkan spent $7.62 per vote to win first in this year's mayoral primary, almost twice as much as any other candidate.
How much the candidates spent per vote can reflect how much money they raised. Of the six serious contenders in the mayor's race, Durkan far outpaced her competitors in fundraising and didn't hesitate to spend her cash. But per-vote spending also tells us a bit about campaign strategy. Do they spend all their money on mailers? Or do they spend less and rely more on volunteers going door to door?
Ben Anderstone—a political consultant who did this great breakdown of the results from primary night—says spending-per-vote doesn't necessarily indicate whether a campaign is effective, since those that raise more will usually spend it. But it can be "effective for spotting campaigns that are too dependent on paid advertising and struggle with organic support."
Some quick takeaways from the mayoral race: If spending translated into votes, Jessyn Farrell should have done much better. Farrell spent the second most per vote after Durkan, but placed fourth. Nikkita Oliver spent nearly $2 less per vote than Farrell but is almost certain to place third. (Oliver's campaign also raised a significant amount of cash, but only spent about half of it.) Bob Hasegawa, who finished second to last among the top six, ran the thriftiest campaign.
Below, you can see how much each of the six mayoral frontrunners raised during the primary campaign, how much they spent (and on what), and how much each vote cost them.*
Spent mostly on: research, mailers, postage, consulting
(A business-funded committee unconnected to Durkan's campaign also spent about $79,600 on ads supporting her. If you include that, her per-vote cost was $9.17.)
Raised: $154,279 ($88,169 of that is from Moon herself)
Spent mostly on: postage, online and TV ads, consulting
Spent mostly on: mailers, postcards, yard signs, campaign staff
Spent mostly on: TV ads, consulting, campaign staff
Spent mostly on: campaign staff, access to Washington State Democrats database
Spent mostly on: online ads, campaign office rent, consulting
*Most of this data comes from the state Public Disclosure Commission. Calculations are slightly imprecise for a few reasons—a few ballots are still trickling in, a few donations to candidates came in on the days following Election Day, and some last minute expenditures may not be reported until the next required reporting deadline—but this is as close as we can get for now.