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Table stakes → 

Posted on 26 February 2015

Neil Godbout did his own analysis of election spending in Prince George:

“On the surface, it looks like Lyn Hall blew away the notion that elected office is earned, not bought, with his mayoral win.

“Many people, including many would-be politicians, desperately want to believe that money can’t buy a seat at the table. Sadly, Hall’s victory goes against recent results.”

He goes on to point out that the majority of the time the winning mayor and councillours are those who spent the most money on their campaign.

Of course, this goes against my own analysis of election spending, titled “Does money buy votes? Not in northern B.C.” (indeed, Godbout’s editorial is titled “Cash counts at ballot box”. But I think our conclusions are not as different as the titles would suggest. When I said money doesn’t buy votes I meant that money alone doesn’t buy it- you can outspend and still lose. Godbout says the same, pointing to Hall, Skakun, and Frizzell as examples of hard work and the right candidate overcoming a bigger budget.

I think the better way to think about the need for election spending is table stakes. Zero-dollar campaigns do not do well1. So while a $40,000 dollar mayor’s campaign might beat an $80,000, you still need $40,000. On council, you might win with $6,000 but the bulk of evidence suggests you still need $6,000. Skill, messaging, and hard work may let you beat someone with more money. But if you want to win, you need to pay the table stakes.


  1. I’m talking about Prince George, smaller cities have the occasional successful cost-free campaign 

Filed under: politics, Prince George

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