Buying of the President

Published — April 20, 2016

Sanders spent $9 per vote in New York. Trump? About 13 cents.

Democrats blasted Empire State airwaves, while GOP pols were largely silent

This story was co-published with TIME.


Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders faltered in New York despite outspending front-runner Hillary Clinton on the television and radio airwaves.

Sanders won about 750,000 votes in New York — or 42 percent — while spending more than $6.8 million on TV and radio ads, according to election, according to data provided to the Center for Public Integrity by The Tracking Firm, a nonpartisan media tracking company.

Sanders’ spending spree amounted to about $9.03 per vote.

Clinton, meanwhile, bagged more than 1 million votes while spending about $3.8 million on TV and radio ads — about $3.62 per vote.

Clinton’s victory added to her delegate lead in the Democratic primary, in which she has now won about 25 percent more pledged delegates than Sanders, according to the Associated Press.

Including superdelegates — free agents who may choose to back any candidate — Clinton is now roughly 450 delegates away from clinching the Democratic Party nomination. Sanders would need to secure nearly 1,200 delegates to win the party’s presidential nomination.

Math be damned, Sanders continues pressing on. His campaign is already airing TV ads ahead of the May 3 primary in Indiana, according to data provided to the Center for Public Integrity by Kantar Media/CMAG, an advertising tracking firm.

Both Sanders and Clinton are also already airing ads in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, which all conduct primary elections next Tuesday.

Fueled by small-dollar donors — many of whom have made multiple contributions — Sanders has amassed a campaign war chest of more than $180 million. This has allowed him to outgun Clinton on the TV airwaves for months, although the results of his massive spending have been mixed.

For her part, Clinton has raised about $190 million for her campaign, and super PACs supporting her candidacy have raised tens of millions of dollars in additional funds.

While Clinton and Sanders aired thousands of ads in New York ahead of Tuesday’s primary, Republican Party front-runner Donald Trump did not air a single TV ad.

The New York resident and real estate tycoon surged past rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich, who largely conceded the state. Trump won more than 515,000 votes — about 60 percent of the GOP vote.

Trump, who has benefited from widespread media coverage, spent a mere $67,000 on radio ads during the state’s primary election — the equivalent of about 13 cents per vote.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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