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Groups spent $35 per voter on Maryland casino ads

Sunday - 11/11/2012, 8:02am  ET

Max Smith, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - For months, voters were bombarded by campaign ads for everything from the presidential and congressional races, to local ballot questions. In the end, outside groups spent enough on ads to buy each voter a nice dinner.

A WTOP review of spending on Question 7 in Maryland finds supporters and opponents of the now-approved expanded gambling measure spent more than $35 per vote cast on the issue.

According to unofficial election results, 2,479,262 Marylanders cast a vote on the gambling question. It was the most expensive Maryland state campaign ever.

In Virginia's Senate race, federal election disclosure data compiled by ProPublica shows outside groups spent more than $20 per vote cast.

Groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Republican Senatorial Committee, Super PACs like American Crossroads and advocacy groups like Americans for Tax Reform spent money to support former Virginia Gov. George Allen or attack former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine.

Outside groups spent at least $9.85 per vote cast in the general election to support Allen, the Republican candidate, who received 1,745,044 votes.

On the Democratic side, outside supporters spent at least $10.96 per vote cast for Kaine, who received 1,933,075 votes.

The outside cash supporting Kaine came from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Super PACs like Majority PAC and union groups. None of that funding includes money donated directly to the campaigns.

But the Virginia gubernatorial election pales in comparison to the Senate race in Nevada, where ProPublica data shows Republican Dean Heller received $18.32 and Democrat Shelley Berkley received $32.91 per vote in outside support. Heller held onto his seat in an election with about 900,000 votes cast.

While $474 million of outside funding was spent on the presidential race, according to the Sunlight Foundation, the per-vote costs are not as high as local races due to the number of voters nationwide.

WTOP's Max Smith contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)