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Politics

Meg Whitman Trumps Michael Bloomberg On Absurd, Neo-Gilded Age Campaign Spending

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Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 2:17 PM

click to enlarge Michael Bloomberg: cheapskate
  • Michael Bloomberg: cheapskate
Michael Bloomberg: cheapskate
A year ago, it would have been hard to imagine anyone making New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg look thrifty. He set a record in 2009 by putting $108 million of his own money into his re-election campaign.

But Meg Whitman has shattered that mark, spending $119 million of her eBay fortune on her bid for governor of California. And there's still six weeks to go.

Already, Meg has spent far, far more than Mike did on TV and radio ads. She's also on pace to vastly outspend the highly consulted New York mayor on consultants.

But there are some areas where Meg has been stingier than her fellow tycoon. A full accounting after the jump.


This is not an apples-to-apples comparison, because Whitman's spending reports only go through June 30. So for the most part, her figures reflect the primary election, while Bloomberg's account for his entire campaign. With that caveat out of the way, let's go to the numbers.

click to enlarge Meg commandeers the airwaves
  • Meg commandeers the airwaves
Meg commandeers the airwaves
TV ads
Whitman: $57 million
Bloomberg: $34 million

Whitman had lower name identification than the incumbent mayor, so you'd expect her spend more introducing herself (and demonizing Steve Poizner). But $57 million? Mind-boggling.

Radio
Whitman: $5.4 million
Bloomberg: $290,000

This is still crazy, but it makes sense on at least one level: Californians are more likely to listen to drive-time radio, while New Yorkers are more likely to read newspapers on the subway. Consider:

Print ads

Bloomberg: $2 million

Whitman: $129,000


And there are some other areas where Bloomberg outspent Whitman by a country mile.

Office costs

Bloomberg: $12 million

Whitman: $1.8 million

Rents must be a lot higher in Manhattan than in Cupertino. Apparently the same goes for staplers, paper clips, signature stamps, 3-hole punches, etc.

Polling
Bloomberg: $3.4 million
Whitman: $1.3 million

Each faced lightweight opponents, but Bloomberg seems to have been more paranoid about Comptroller William Thompson than Whitman was about Poizner. And with good reason: Thompson almost won.

Campaign literature and mailings
Bloomberg: $22 million
Whitman: $7.6 million

Look for Whitman to pull closer in the last few weeks of the campaign.

Lawyers and accountants
Bloomberg: $3.7 million
Whitman: $700,000

New York lawyers are expensive.

Consultants
Bloomberg: $11.2 million
Whitman: $10.2 million

Whitman will end up crushing Bloomberg on this line item. After this campaign, Mike Murphy can retire to a private island with a lifetime supply of blow, interrupting his orgies only for the occasional cable news hit.

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