They won’t start counting the election ballots until tonight, but it’s not too early to start counting how much was spent trying to persuade you and your neighbors on how to vote.
Let’s just say that you might be able to cure cancer for what got dropped on just the top congressional and state legislative races here, with the cumulative figures running something around $100 million.
Take Congress: Outside “independent” groups spent more than $43 million just in the top six congressional races in the state. Like the 11th District contest in the western suburbs between Judy Biggert and Bill Foster ($7.3 million), the 10th District contest in the northern suburbs pitting Robert Dold against Brad Schneider ($6.5 million) and the 8th District slugfest in the northwest burbs between Tammy Duckworth and Robert Joe Walsh ($6.6 million).
In the latter, nearly half of the outside money, more than $3 million, came from just one super PAC alone, the Missouri-based Now or Never PAC.
Another $20 million or so — how much was spent won’t be known for sure until later — was available in the candidates’ collective treasuries. And the figures cited above from reports by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington watchdog group, aren’t necessarily final.
Meanwhile, in Illinois legislative districts, 10 Senate and eight House contests ended up passing the $1 million threshold each in terms of how much the Democratic and GOP contenders collectively had available to spend.
Given that Senate districts are home to only about a quarter of a million residents, and House districts half that, a million bucks could be enough for the candidates to take every voter out to lunch — and, in a few cases, dinner.
Bottom line? If you’re tight with anyone from a TV station, make sure they pick up the tab next time you go out. They can afford it. And just imagine how much will be spent next time the governor’s mansion is on the line.