Republican Rick Scott spent $41 million more than his opponent, Democrat Bill Nelson, to get an estimated 30,239 votes that may have pushed him to possible victory in the U.S. Senate race.
About $20.7 million of that was Scott’s own money.
But despite the large campaign investment, a win has not been officially proclaimed. The unofficial vote count will not be finalized until Saturday at noon, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Closer to home, candidates worked with a much smaller scale of money and voters, with Charlotte and Sarasota counties having a combined 453,892 registered voters.
And that trend of spending more, often correlated with local wins as well.
Candidates for available Charlotte County Commission, Punta Gorda City Council, Sarasota County Commission and North Port Commission seats spent a combined $443,052.76, spending almost a dollar for each possible vote.
“Unfortunately, campaigns have to spend money to reach voters,” said Jonathan Skavroneck, the principal consultant of Octagon Political Strategies. “As long as there are voters that have not been reached, it is a good strategy to invest time and money to speak to them and get them out to vote. Even if you speak to everybody once, you still want to try and reach them as many times as you can.”
According to Charlotte County and Punta Gorda candidates’ financial reports, winning candidates Stephen R. Deutsch, Cara Reynolds, Debby Carey and Kathleen Coppola spent an average of 12 cents more on each possible voter than losing candidates Joan Fischer, Cathy Janiak, Joe Makray and Rachel Keesling.
The least was spent by No-Party Affiliate Airport Authority losing candidate Makray, who raised and spent just $25 for his qualifying fee.
“I didn’t want to spend any money,” Makray said Tuesday night. “I got the most votes for spending the least amount of money.”
Makray received 23,294 votes, spending a tenth of a penny for each one.
His opponent, Coppola, was the second lightest spender, paying out $1,504.08. After receiving 56,499 votes, she spent almost 3 cents per vote she received.
School Board winner Reynolds spent the most this election cycle in Charlotte County, registering at $65,581.41, which averages at a little more than $4 per vote earned.
“Throughout my campaign I worked hard to reach 135,112 potential voters so they could make an informed decision,” Reynolds said. “There were 14,716 voters who left the School Board race blank and there would have been more had I not exhausted every avenue to reach out through mailers, radio, TV, or social media.”
“I wanted people to vote for me because they believed in me to do the best job for our kids, not based on a guess or name recognition,” she said.
Meanwhile, her opponent, Janiak, raised $5,804.51, spending almost 65 cents per vote earned.
There were 134,539 registered voters eligible to vote in this midterm election, according to the Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections website.
Sarasota County Commission candidates who spent the most earned the most, with Republican winners Christian Ziegler and Alan Maio spending a combined $186,762.80. Their opponents, Democrat candidates Ruta Maria Jouniari and Wesley Anne Beggs, raised a third of that.
But on the flip-side, the lighter spenders in the nonpartisan North Port Commission races won over their constituents, with Jill Luke and Pete Emrich spending a combined $6,562.13. Their opponents, Peter Bartolotta and Kevin M. Rouse, raised $17,402.63, spending 57 cents more per vote than the winning candidates.