It may be time to regulate the grubby arms race of election spending

12 September 2021 - 00:00 By Lindiwe Mazibuko

It costs between $15m (R213m) and $19m to win a seat in the US Senate. This is according to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit that tracks the effect of money on the country’s legal and policymaking agenda. In the last elections, a congressional win cost candidates significantly less, at a more modest but still staggering $2m per seat.

These numbers rise precipitously when the candidate is not the incumbent: the average cost of a congressional win for candidates hoping to unseat the incumbent was $4.4m at the last poll, whereas a Senate seat cost each of the eight successful new candidates an average of $23.8m. As with all averages, this number obscures the costs at the higher end of the spectrum, such as the $79m — that’s a whopping R1.12bn — spent by Beto O’Rourke in Texas, only to lose the race to his Republican Party opponent...

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