James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Cost of Victory

Frank Gonzalez, running on a free markets, civil liberties, and peace platform, won 41% as a Democrat in the Florida 21st Congressional race. His campaign spent a little over $11,000 which translated to 26 cents per vote. His opponent, incumbent Lincoln Diaz-Balart, spent $641,000, which translated to $9.80 per vote. Voter turnout was 37%.

This is a "safe" Republican district with plenty of anti-Castro Cubans. In 2004, the Democrats didn't even run a candidate against Diaz-Balart. What would it take for Gonzalez, who said he'll run again in 2008, to get over the hump?

Because of party loyalty and anti-incumbent feeling, my guess is that in a race like this, a major-party challenger is virtually guaranteed 30% of the vote, even if he's just a slot-filler who's unknown and doesn't campaign. It doesn't take much in terms of financing and hours to increase that to 31%, but each percentage point becomes ever more expensive. Frank spent $11,000 to gain 11 percentage points.

My guess is that to defeat Diaz-Balert through campaign ads would take $100,000 per additional percentage point, or a million dollars. If Diaz-Balert spent $640,000 when victory was pretty much assured beforehand, what would he spend against a genuine threat - which Gonzalez will likely be in two years?

One wonders if the Democratic Party will commit any money to a Jeffersonian Democrat opposing a "safe" Republican seat. Gonzalez's success will have to come through the grassroots. But he's certainly making greater inroads than the Libertarian Party or Republican Liberty Caucus.

1 comment:

  1. The problem is, as someone who has had a lot of dealings with Frank, is that he pisses off a lot of his grassroots support, especially on the conservative and Libertarian side, by insulting them on a nearly continual, almost tourrettes like basis.

    Once he learns the concepts of diplomacy and polite conversation, he can expect to see a whole lot more grassroots support. I know that I, for one, would have actively worked to get him elected this year pro-bono, if he hadn't continually insulted me and refused constructive criticism throughout the campaign.