Biden Campaign on Course to Spend $18 for Every Vote Won, 50 Percent Higher than Previous Record

Former Vice President Joe Biden is on course to spend the most per vote of any presidential candidate in U.S. history in what has been the most expensive presidential race ever.

The Center for Responsive Politics, a 501(c)3 tax-exempt, charitable organization that runs the campaign finance website OpenSecrets.org, estimates that the election will cost $14 billion, with Democrats beating out Republicans.

The Biden campaign raised a combined $1,380,583,483 this cycle. That figure includes contributions to the official campaign committee, Biden for President, and outside groups campaigning for the Democrat.

So far, $1,146,283,972 of that total has been spent and the Biden campaign is likely to burn through most of the remainder before the FEC filing deadline for the post-general election report on December 3.

Biden won 76,994,475 votes nationwide, meaning his campaign is on track to spend almost $18 per vote.

This is more than any previous candidate has spent, both in total and when broken down by cost per voter.

The money was spent overwhelmingly on media costs, according to a breakdown by OpenSecrets.org. More than 80 percent of funds raised were used to pay for media services. This is usually the largest chunk of presidential campaign spending and the Biden team invested heavily in TV advertising. The Trump campaign spent just over 66 percent on media.

The Biden campaign's remaining funds were spent on salaries, administration, fundraising activities, unclassifiable items and others, though the figures are only complete up to October 14.

President Donald Trump's combined fundraising for 2020 was $863,552,249 and he won 71,925,299 votes, meaning the campaign is on course to spend less than $12 per vote if they use their remaining cash on hand. However, the campaign had only spent $809,029,495 up to October 14.

In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent $768,577,907 and won 65,853,514 votes. This also amounted to less than $12 per vote. Clinton's spending included contributions to her campaign committee and outside groups. This means Biden will have spent 50 percent more for every one vote than the next most expensive campaign.

Trump's 2016 combined expenditure was $422,620,473 and he secured 62,984,828 Americans' votes—a cost of less than $7 per vote. This is less than the previous Republican candidate, now Senator Mitt Romney, spent in his losing bid to unseat President Barack Obama in 2012. That race cost the Romney campaign around $8 a vote.

Obama's combined spending in 2012 breaks down to $11 per vote. This is roughly the same as the cost of his successful 2008 campaign, where the late Senator John McCain was significantly outspent. Each vote the Republican candidate won that year cost around $6.

In 2004, President George W. Bush set a record for campaign spending as he ran for re-election. The race ended up costing him around $6 per vote, however. The record was quickly surpassed.

Democrats have outspent Republicans in every recent election but the margin in 2020 is more significant. The party spent almost $7 billion this cycle across all races compared to the GOP's nearly $4 billion.

Final figures on fundraising and expenditure for the presidential campaign won't be available until December but it's already clear that the Biden campaign will have spent more for each vote won than any previous campaign.

President-elect Joe Biden Addresses the Media
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden addresses the media about the Trump Administration’s lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act on November 10, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. Mr. Biden also answered questions about the process of the transition and how a Biden Administration would work with Republicans. Biden's campaign has set a new spending record. Joe Raedle/Getty Images