There’s dark money, grassroots and retail politicking. But at the end of the day, nothing gets the job done like good, old, cold, hard cash.

A Civil Beat analysis of campaign spending and primary election results shows a vote last month cost most major candidates in major races between $10 and $20 apiece, though the range was from $3 to $90. Those who spent more in total were more likely — though not guaranteed — to win.

The findings are incomplete because expenditures for the final weeks of the campaign are not yet available for federal races — U.S. Senate and House. The pre-primary filings cover everything through July 22, and 48-hour notices filed after that show only incoming and not outgoing money.

The picture is clearer for county level races — Honolulu mayor and City Council. Here’s a look at the major candidates from those races, with the federal races below.

Honolulu Mayor

Candidate Name Money Spent Through Aug. 11 Votes received $ / Vote
Caldwell, Kirk $918,305 59,963 $15.31
Carlisle, Peter $773,050 51,101 $15.13
Cayetano, Ben $887,074 90,956 $9.75

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Primary Election results and campaign finance records

Kirk Caldwell and Peter Carlisle spent nearly the same amount per vote, with Ben Cayetano scoring a comparatively good deal about 35 percent below his competitors.

The former governor will likely have to continue to milk more support out of less cash if he hopes to win his runoff with Caldwell, who closed the gap in fundraising without maxing out as many donors as Cayetano did early in the cycle.

Honolulu City Council

Candidate Name Money Spent Through Aug. 11 Votes received $ / Vote
Han, Martin $87,751 3,469 $25.30
Manahan, Joey $125,680 7,123 $17.64
Pine, Kymberly $86,730 5,252 $16.51
Menor, Ron $127,696 10,629 $12.01
Anderson, Ikaiki $122,786 19,546 $6.28
Berg, Tom $13,593 4,242 $3.20

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Primary Election results and campaign finance records

The District 7 matchup between winner Joey Manahan and Martin Han was the most expensive, with both candidates spending more money per vote than those in other council races. Ikaika Anderson and Ron Menor spent about as heavily as Manahan did, but got more votes to show for it. Both won their races outright and will be on the council come next year.

Kymberly Pine spent heavily but was unable to win the District 1 race outright and will face Tom Berg in a runoff. Berg was lightly financed and would likely be considered the underdog in the runoff, but still has a chance due to fervent support among rail opponents.

U.S. Senate

Candidate Name Money Spent Through July 22 Votes received $ / Vote
Lingle, Linda $2,378,485 44,252 $53.75
Hirono, Mazie $2,071,698 134,745 $15.37
Carroll, John $30,873 2,900 $10.65
Case, Ed $592,263 95,553 $6.20

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Primary Election results and campaign finance records

Linda Lingle dramatically outspent her primary opponent, John Carroll, and spent more per vote than either of the major Democrats in the race at at least $53.75 per vote (it will be more once the final expenditures through Aug. 11 are tallied).

But that’s not really the whole story since Lingle wasn’t spending that money for primary election votes; she was spending it as part of a general election strategy. The same logic applies to Mazie Hirono, who focused at least as much on Lingle as she did on Ed Case.

U.S. House

Candidate Name Money Spent Through July 22 Votes received $ / Vote
Marx, Bob $387,210 4,327 $89.49
Hannemann, Mufi $835,579 39,176 $21.33
Kiaaina, Esther $135,352 6,681 $20.26
Gabbard, Tulsi $624,066 62,882 $9.92
Djou, Charles $211,793 25,984 $8.15
Hanabusa, Colleen $506,846 92,136 $5.50
Crowley, Kawika N/A 9056 N/A
DiGeronimo, Matt N/A 5843 N/A
Wyttenbach, Sky N/A 17369 N/A

Source: Civil Beat analysis of Primary Election results and campaign finance records

Bob Marx‘s hefty spending in the primary was not exactly money well spent. He funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own into his campaign, spent at least $387,000 (not including the final three weeks of the race) and got only 4,300 votes to show for it — a massive layout of nearly $90 per supporter.

Mufi Hannemann and Esther Kiaaina were in the same range, about $20 per vote. Tulsi Gabbard‘s comparatively low spend per vote can be attributed in part to the outside help she received from groups like VoteVets.org, Sierra Club and EMILY’s List.

Republicans Kawika Crowley and Matt DiGeronimo and Democrat Sky Wyttenbach did not file disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission at all this year.

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