2016 Election Results vs. Ad Spend: South Carolina Primary, Nevada Caucus and More

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By Laura Woods, Contributor

Getting elected to the most powerful job in the world isn't cheap, but presidential candidates are willing to pay up. In total, the 2016 election is expected to cost up to $5 billion, more than double the amount spent on the 2012 race.

While presidential candidates can't actually pay voters to get ahead in the primaries, they can outspend the competition in advertising to promote their campaigns, build name recognition and lambaste opponents. Find out how closely this year's election results correlate with each candidate's total ad spend, with data from Morning Consult.

Iowa Caucus Results and Ad Spending

Iowa Republican Presidential Candidates

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Marco Rubio ran a close race in Iowa. Cruz didn't even come close to spending the most on ads, but the Texas senator ultimately won the Iowa Caucus with 28 percent of the vote, likely because the mostly evangelical constitutes identify with his conservative beliefs.

Candidate Campaign Spending Super PACs Spending Total Spending Total Votes Cost Per Vote
Jeb Bush $0 $14.05 million $14.05 million 5,238 $2,682.32
Ben Carson $3.28 million $329,000 $3.61 million 17,395 $207.53
Chris Christie $44,000 $543,000 $587,000 3,284 $178.75
Ted Cruz $2.90 million $4.53 million $7.43 million 51,666 $143.81
Carly Fiorina $356,000 $475,000 $831,000 3,485 $238.45
Mike Huckabee $0 $2.76 million $2.76 million 3,345 $825.11
John Kasich $0 $0 $0 3,474 $0
Rand Paul $86,000 $1.23 million $1.32 million 8,481 $155.17
Marco Rubio $4.53 million $7.20 million $11.73 million 43,165 $271.75
Rick Santorum $3,000 $29,000 $32,000 1,783 $17.95
Donald Trump $3.54 million $24,000 $3.56 million 45,427 $78.46

Iowa Democratic Presidential Candidates

The incredibly close Iowa Caucus results between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders made history, but Clinton ultimately won with 49.9 percent of the vote. Her victory came despite the fact that she spent only 50 days in Iowa, compared to Sanders who ran 155 events over 60 days. Clinton's ad spend in Iowa, however, was slightly larger.

Candidate Campaign Spending Super PACs Spending Total Spending Total Votes* Cost Per Delegate
Hillary Clinton $10.74 million $48,000 $7.43 million 701 $10,599.14
Martin O'Malley $0 $239,000 $239,000 8 $29,875
Bernie Sanders $10.01 million $0 $10.01 million 697 $14,361.55
*The Iowa Democratic Party does not report vote totals. Amount listed is equal to number of delegates won.

New Hampshire Primary Results and Ad Spending

New Hampshire Republican Presidential Candidates

Donald Trump scored a landslide victory at the New Hampshire primary, earning 35.3 percent of the votes, which is more than double the 15.8 percent received by second place winner John Kasich. Trump was praised for taking more time to meet with voters face to face and holding more interviews with the press. He also toned down the number of controversial remarks he made, helping secure his spot at the top.

Candidate Total Spending Total Votes Cost Per Vote
Jeb Bush $36.1 million 31,310 $1,152.98
Ben Carson $575,000 6,509 $88.34
Chris Christie $18.5 million 21,069 $878.07
Ted Cruz $580,000 33,189 $17.48
Carly Fiorina $1.8 million 11,706 $153.77
John Kasich $12.1 million 44,909 $269.43
Rand Paul $831,000 1,900 $437.37
Marco Rubio $15.2 million 30,032 $506.13
Donald Trump $3.7 million 100,406 $36.85

New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Candidates

Bernie Sanders achieved an overwhelming 60.4 percent of votes in the New Hampshire primary, proving he's still very much in the race after his narrow loss at the Iowa caucus. However, the Vermont senator's ad revenue more than doubled Clinton's and he had home turf advantage.

Candidate Total Spending Total Votes Cost Per Vote
Hillary Clinton $10.8 million 95,252 $113.38
Bernie Sanders $8.1 million 151,584 $53.44

South Carolina Primary Results and Ad Spending

South Carolina Republican Presidential Candidates

Donald Trump solidified himself as the frontrunner of the Republican Party by sweeping the South Carolina primary with 32.5 percent of the vote despite spending the least on ads. The billionaire businessman was victorious because he won the support of several key demographic groups; he identifies with voters' frustration with Washington; and he's vocal on issues most important to constituents -- terrorism, the economy and immigration.

Candidate Campaign Spending Super PACs Spending Total Spending Total Votes Cost Per Vote
Jeb Bush $83,000 $13.70 million $13.78 million 57,863 $238.15
Ben Carson $1.01 million $45,000 $1.06 million 53,326 $19.88
Ted Cruz $2.34 million $4.73 million $7.07 million 164,790 $42.90
John Kasich $497,000 $385,000 $882,000 56,206 $15.69
Marco Rubio $4.71 million $7.34 million $12.05 million 165,881 $72.64
Donald Trump $1.78 million $0 $1.78 million 239,851 $7.42

South Carolina Democratic Presidential Candidates

Hillary Clinton led by a wide margin in South Carolina. Despite near-identical spending on ads by Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders, the former Secretary of State annihilated the Vermont senator in the polls.

Between the number of votes Clinton received and her low ad budget, she beat out Trump on a cost-per-vote basis. Trump spent $7.42 per vote in the South Carolina Republican primary; Clinton spent $7.29 per vote.

Candidate Total Spending Total Votes Cost Per Vote
Hillary Clinton $1.98 million 271,514 $7.29
Bernie Sanders $1.73 million 95,977 $18.03

Nevada Caucus Results and Ad Spending

Nevada Republican Presidential Candidates

Since Jeb Bush has dropped out of the presidential race, Donald Trump's support has soared. In the Feb. 23 Nevada caucus, Trump brought in 45.9 percent of the votes. Marco Rubio beat Ted Cruz once more, maintaining his lead since South Carolina's primary results. He brought in 23.9 percent of the votes while Cruz received 21.4 percent.

While John Kasich came last in the polls, the Ohio governor spent the least in ads, spending $1.11 in ads for each of the 2,709 votes he received. And while Marco Rubio was the biggest spender in the caucus, Ben Carson paid the most per vote. The former neurosurgeon spent $85.55 for each of his 3,619 votes.

Candidate Campaign Spending Super PACs Spending Total Spending Total Votes Cost Per Vote
Ben Carson $306,000 $0 $306,000 3,619 $85.55
Ted Cruz $131,000 $670,000 $801,000 16,079 $49.82
John Kasich $0 $3,000 $3,000 2,709 $1.11
Marco Rubio $248,000 $657,000 $905,000 17,940 $50.45
Donald Trump $488,000 $0 $488,000 34,531 $14.13

Nevada Democratic Presidential Candidates

Bernie Sanders outspent Hillary Clinton again for the Nevada caucus, but this time she won with 52.6 percent of the vote, compared to Sanders' 47.4 percent. Nevada is much more diverse than the primarily rural, suburban and predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire; Clinton was lined to win this caucus owed to the support of 76 percent of the state's African American voters.

Candidate Campaign Spending Super PACs Spending Total Spending Total Votes Cost Per Vote
Hillary Clinton $3.49 million $245,000 $3.74 million 6,291 $594.50
Bernie Sanders $4.12 million $0 $4.12 million 5,634 $731.27

Keep checking back to see how much candidates are spending on ads and whether their budgets are doing much to help them in the polls.

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