By: Mark Glennon
Can a candidate for governor pick up 32,000 votes by spending $50 million? Easily. Anywhere. That’s over $1,500 per vote. In Chicago, you could get Mrs. O’Leary’s cow elected at that rate.
Pat Quinn won the 2010 election for governor by just 32,000 votes, a margin of less than one percent. He spent $54 million on the “anti’violence” program that’s now subject to multiple investigations and widely accepted to have been little more than a vote buying and voter turnout fund. Was $54 million enough to get those 32,000 votes that made the difference? Of course it was.
Quinn beat Bill Brady in 2010 by winning big in Cook County, especially Chicago. The only counties Quinn won were Cook and two smaller downstate counties near St. Louis. In Chicago, where most of the money went, Quinn beat Brady by over 300,000 votes, providing far more than he needed to make up for losing almost everywhere else.
For a little perspective, Obama’s campaign spending in 2012 was $17 per vote that he ended up getting, and Romney’s was about $20. In this Spring’s primary, Bruce Rauner spent what’s considered a very high $47 per vote to overcome his initial no-name status. Research on the effectiveness of things like leafleting, door-to-door workers, paid phone calls and the like says they generally return roughly one vote for every $10 to $50 spent.
That’s what you get spending it legitimately. Much more bang for the buck comes from “walking around” money and the other uses where it’s becoming clear that much of the anti-violence cash went.
So, what do you get for $50 million? 32,000 votes? Much, much more than that. To look at it a different way, suppose it was costing Quinn a very high $100 to pick up marginal votes. How many would he have gotten for $50 million? Answer: 500,000 votes.
Pat Quinn stole the 2010 election using taxpayer money.