Election costs should alarm all residents

Published 12:05am Thursday, June 5, 2014

What’s the value of a vote? Years ago, a voter fraud case in Wilkinson County showed that at least one person claimed to have traded his vote for a hamburger.

But for the candidates vying for the office of U.S. Senator from Mississippi, the value of a vote appears to be much, much more valuable than the cost of a little ground beef, a bun and some ketchup.

Statistics show candidates and their supporters paid approximately $41 in marketing per vote cast in Tuesday’s primary election.

That’s how the math works out between the amazingly high figures paid by campaigns and third-party lobbying organizations for political advertising.

Headed into Tuesday’s primary, the total spending had totaled more than $12.4 million, the Associated Press reported.

Tuesday’s stats equated to approximately $4.14 per Mississippi resident — even though many of them didn’t actually vote.

With incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel locked in a virtual dead heat, a runoff appears likely, which means additional funds will be spent in the next three weeks as the runoff approaches.

More than two-thirds of the money pumped into the senate race — $8.4 million — didn’t come from the candidates or their official campaigns, but from Super PACs.

Clearly, one has to wonder why on earth all of these outside groups are willing to fork out so much money to lobby for one senator’s election. The reason is simple: They hope to be “repaid” through favorable treatment down the road on key votes.

If that scares you a little bit, it should. It’s also why our country must work hard to clean up the campaign spending rules to avoid unregulated “soft money” donations.