Amounting to more than $5 million, Rep. Eric Cantor's campaign spent an average of $9.90 on each of the more than 500,000 registered voters in Virginia's 7th Congressional District. Compared with the average of $0.24 spent per registered voter by Dave Brat's campaign, it's easy to see why many were surprised to see Brat pull out a double-digit win.
The latest finance report from the Cantor campaign showed the House Majority Leader with $5.4 million raised, more than $5 million spent, about $1.5 million on hand, and zero debt. Not a bad state for a prominent politician heading into the primary.
Cantor also benefited from outside spending on his behalf. A May 21 financial report shows $366,330 in outside money being spent in support of Cantor, and just $4,805 being spent in opposition, according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics.
Voters in the district turned out in higher than usual numbers Tuesday, beating 2012's primary turnout rates by more than 3 percent, amounting to roughly 13 percent of registered voters casting a ballot. Not an exceptional amount, but notable. According to Virginia Board of Elections reports, more than 65,000 votes were cast, or nearly 18,000 more than in the 2012 primary.
Larger counties in Cantor's district saw even greater gains, with Henrico County casting 6,000 more votes than in 2012, and Chesterfield and Hanover Counties each posting about 3,000 more votes than the last time Cantor was on a primary ballot.
The effect of higher voter turnout trumped any advantage bought with the millions of dollars spent by Cantor. While super PACs have received criticism for their alleged ability to buy elections, Tuesday's primary showed that more money does not always equal more votes.