How much gasoline is a GOP primary voter worth?

Gas prices have barely budged compared to the cost of buying votes in the GOP primaries

Topics: 2012 Elections, Gas Prices, Useless Charts, Republican Party, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Editor's Picks,

How much gasoline is a GOP primary voter worth?Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks at his primary night election rally with wife Callista on Tuesday, March 13, 2012, in Birmingham, Ala. (Credit: AP/Butch Dill)

The rising price of gas has become a pressing political concern, with Republicans hammering President Obama for not finding some way to bring prices down. Newt Gingrich has promised to bring the cost of gas down to $2.50, using space technology borrowed from native Martians at our Lunar Trading Post, and he has forced his followers to carry large totems featuring “gas pump” icons.

But as gas prices have soared since the beginning of the year, the cost of a Republican primary vote has plummeted. A few months ago, campaigns were spending a fortune in ad buys and organizations in the small early states. In Iowa, Mitt Romney and the PACs affiliated with his campaign spent around $144 for each vote received. By Florida that number was down to $19. On Super Tuesday, only $2.89 was spent by each campaign for each vote cast nationwide.

Is the price of gas correlated to the price of a primary vote? I decided to chart the price fluctuations in gasoline against the price fluctuations of Republican voters since the Iowa caucuses, because the Internet loves charts and campaign finance. If you think filling up your car is expensive, try running for president! (That is probably something Mitt Romney will say on camera at some point this week.)

Here is the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded versus the average amount spent by all the Republican campaigns per vote cast in each primary and caucus so far: (Click all images to enlarge.)

The same chart, without pricey Iowa distorting the scale:

As you can see, the price of gas has actually barely budged and everyone should calm down.

Now, with millions of dollars spent and votes cast, your typical Republican voter is probably asking himself, “How many gallons of gas am I worth, based on what the campaign spent convincing me to vote for them? We’re here to help, typical Republican voter!

I’ve charted how many gallons of gas each campaign could’ve bought with the money spent per vote received so far. (For example: Ron Paul has spent approximately $31.55 for every vote received. This makes each one of his voters worth a whopping 8.24 gallons!)

In primary battles, as in all aspects of life under capitalism, some people are worth more than others. Delegates, for example. While Mitt Romney has spent about $17 per vote received, he has spent $67,000 for each delegate he’s been awarded. So I added Romney delegates to the preceding chart, in order to properly illustrate just how worthless your vote actually is:

A Mitt Romney delegate is worth 1,700 gallons of gas. That is enough to fill 1,000 Cadillacs!

Data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Department of Energy, AAA, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>