Huckabee Leads in Keeping His Cost Per Delegate Low
By LESLIE WAYNE
Published: February 7, 2008
If political victory was measured in the wise use of scant financial resources, Mike Huckabee would be the front-runner in the presidential race.
Operating on a shoestring budget, Mr. Huckabee has spent far less lining up his 156 delegates than any other candidate, Democratic or Republican, when measured by cost per delegate.
The calculation is based on end-of-year figures and does not take into account fund-raising in 2008 or the spending since the nominating process began in Iowa on Jan. 3.
By those figures, Mr. Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, ran the most frugal campaign, spending $45,000 a delegate, according to The New York Times delegate count. That was far less than the $654,000 a delegate spent by Mitt Romney.
?It?s clear that Mr. Romney?s money can?t buy him love,? said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that collects and analyzes campaign finance data. ?He?s spent so much more than Huckabee, yet Huckabee got a lot more bang for his buck.?
Federal records show that Mr. Romney, a Harvard Business School graduate who has made his business skills a campaign centerpiece, spent $87 million in 2007 and ended Feb. 5 with 133 delegates. By comparison, Senator John McCain of Arizona, leading in delegates with 683, spent $39 million, or $57,000 a delegate.
Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee?s campaigns defy the conventional wisdom that says it takes money ? a lot of it ? for a candidate to get out his message. While the presidential hopefuls are on track to raise $1 billion ? and spend it ? Mr. McCain and Mr. Huckabee made the most of ?free media,? taking virtually every opportunity to participate in televised debates, appear on late-night talk shows and turn up regularly on cable news programs.
?They say that the most dangerous place to be is between Huckabee and a cable news show,? said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist. ?He went on every free outlet to get his message out. He was living off cable television. And he did exceptionally well in each of the 15 Republican debates.?
Mr. McCain, who was down to his last $1 million in late 2007 and took out a $3 million bank loan, ended up spending $8.5 million to date on television commercials. Mr. Huckabee spent $3 million on television commercials, according to CMAG, a firm that tracks political spending.
By contrast, Mr. Romney spent $30 million on a nationwide television blitz, representing half the spending by all Republican candidates combined. To help support this spending, Mr. Romney also lent his campaign $35 million, or $263,000 a delegate.
Representative Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, also spent heavily, with little return, $20 million with an estimated five delegates, or $4 million a delegate.
Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, who spent $48 million, did not line up a single delegate.
On the Democratic side, the neck-and-neck race between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama continues in the financial arena. Mrs. Clinton, of New York, has spent nearly $90,000 for each of the 892 delegates she has lined up. Mr. Obama, of Illinois, spent $119,000 for each of his 716 .
At the end of 2007, Mrs. Clinton had $37 million in cash, with $18.5 million for the primary and the remaining $19 million earmarked for the general election. Mr. Obama had $18.6 million on hand, of which $13.5 million could be used for the primary race and the remaining $5 million for the general election.