What does a senator cost these days? Over $10M
(MoneyWatch) Getting elected to Congress is a tough and expensive proposition. Really expensive. The average U.S. senator during the 2012 election cycle raised nearly $10.5 million, which works out to $14,351 per day. Representatives were lowballing by comparison: about $1.7 million each, on average, or $2,315 every day.
The figures come from MapLight, a non-profit that describes itself as a "non-partisan research organization that tracks money's influence on politics." The organization looked at Federal Election Commission records of donations from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012.
- Election Day: Some broken hearts, empty wallets
- A record amount of money spent on Wisconsin recall
- Campaign spending tops $1.3 billion
To put the numbers into context, under the current federal guidelines, the poverty level for a family of four is $23,550 of income per year, which is less than two days of fundraising for the average senator and slightly more than 10 days for a representative.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, real median household income in 2011, the latest figures available, was $50,054. Still, a senator raising funds would have secured more than that amount in well under a week; it would take a representative the better part of a month to do the same.
The average sales price for a new home in January 2013 was $286,300, so a single average senator's 2012 election cycle fund raising could have purchased 36 houses. A representative's was worth about 6 houses.
Senators raise far more money individually, but when you compare the total cash in play, the House of Representatives is far more expensive to elect at $734,967,300 for the 2012 cycle than the Senate at $523,822,550.
Of course, members of Congress seem like pikers when compared to the fund raising of presidential candidates. The combined campaign fund raising of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was $1.1 billion by the end of the race.
In addition, third parties spent more than $1.3 billion in the most recent presidential and congressional races.
Image: Flickr user Sue Peacock
Popular on MoneyWatch
- Reverse cell phone lookup service is free and simple
- How to stop the mediocrity pandemic
- What homeowners should do before - and after - a tornado
- Top five 529 college plans
- LinkedIn: 3 tips for building a better profile
- Apple's Cook says company doesn't use "tax gimmicks"
- How to organize your job hunt
- Top 10 professional life coaching myths