Campaign spending in the 2018 Oklahoma gubernatorial primary in two charts

A common complaint about our electoral system in the United States is the degree to which it is driven by money. It is definitely true that having more financial resources is a great advantage for any candidate, but it is just as true that money alone does not dictate the outcome of elections. A key measure of effectiveness for any campaign is the dollars per spent per vote received. The chart above reflects dollars spent for each vote received by fourteen of the fifteen candidates in the recent gubernatorial primary election in Oklahoma(Barry Gowdy-R filed no financial reports). Eric Foutch spent the least per vote(39¢) and overall($893.90), but also received the fewest votes of any Republican candidate. At the opposite end of the scale, Gary Richardson-R spent the most per vote($68.61) while Kevin Stitt-R was the spending leader, shelling out over $4 million. The dollars per vote and total spending is listed below for each candidate.

*Chris Barnett’s campaign finance report that was due on August 20th was not yet available.

Four of the six candidates who spent the most per vote received were unable to advance from the primary. Connie Johnson, one of the two Democrats, obtained more votes than any Republican despite spending only 45¢ for each one she received. Obviously the dynamics of each race was a major factor, but the ability and willingness of some candidates to spend copious amounts to reach voters is informative.

Another useful consideration for voters is the amount of self-funding that candidates choose to do. Of the four Republicans who began their campaigns by filing for office in April, none put their own money into the race(aside from the filing fee). Of the five candidates who advanced to the nomination or a runoff, only Mick Cornett-R appears to not have personally financially supported his campaign efforts. Another Republican, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, was long considered the leading contender but was barely edged out for second place and a spot in the runoff by Kevin Stitt. Lamb, like Cornett, did not self-fund. Lamb and Cornett were both able to raise a tremendous amount of money, finishing second and third, respectively, in total amount spent and third and fourth in dollars per vote. Stitt, despite his recent claims to be matching contributions, is almost entirely self-funded. Republican Gary Richardson self-funded to nearly the same level as Kevin Stitt, but was a distant fourth in overall spending and after polling well early became less and less competitive. The amount each candidate self-funded and the percentage of their spending that was their own money is listed below.

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