Commentary on campaign expenditure data for the 2011 Presidential Election

Adrian Kavanagh, 15th February 2011

The Standards in Public Office Commission made its report on donations and election expenses disclosed to it by the seven presidential election candidates on 14th February 2012. This report found that, in total, €304,570.75 in campaign donations was received by the seven candidates while they spent a total of just over €2.3 million between them based on declarations submitted to the commission, amounting to an average campaign spend of €331,225.30 per candidate. While the level of donations received was dominated by Michael D Higgins and Mary Davis, who between them accounted for almost eighty percent of all campaign donations received, the level of campaign expenditure by individual candidate did not vary to the same degree with all the candidates, bar Dana Rosemary Scallon, spending at least three hundred thousand euro during the campaign. That being said, the level of expenditure by the Mitchell and Davis campaigns was somewhat in excess of those of the other candidates, as Table 1 shows, meaning that the spend level per vote received for these candidates, given their poor electoral showing, was much higher than for the rest of the field.

Candidate Donations Expenditure Votes Spend per vote
Davis

120,095.00

414,041.32

48,657

8.51

Gallagher

28,759.00

323,318.45

504,964

0.64

Higgins

121,421.53

359,935.48

701,101

0.51

McGuinness

4,348.00

302,563.47

243,030

1.24

Mitchell

0.00

527,152.01

113,321

4.65

Norris

17,929.98

331,974.89

109,469

3.03

Scallon

12,017.24

59,591.47

51,220

1.16

Table 1: Campaign donations and expenditure details per candidate for the 2011 presidential election (Standards in Public Office Commission, 2012)

The level of spend on different aspects of the campaign tended to vary significantly between the candidates and with certain aspects attracting a larger campaign spend either from the party candidates or the non-party candidates. While the total campaign expenditures for the three party candidates (€1.19m) and four non-party candidates (€1.13m) were roughly similar, there tended to be greater levels of spending on aspects such as advertising, posters and market research amongst the party candidates (with the Mitchell campaign accounting for a significant chunk of this expenditure) whereas non-party candidates tended to spend significant more on areas such as publicity and office and stationery, as well as on the employment of campaign workers (Table 2).  It could well be that the party candidates were able to draw on party personnel and infrastructural resources in relation to the latter aspects (almost amounting to a payment in kind), thus deflating their overall campaign expenditure by default and meaning that these candidates could afford to invest extra expenditure levels in other aspects of the campaign unlike the non-party candidates who were required to make significant outlays for these areas.

  Party Non-party Most popular Least popular
Advertising

72,809.74

23,605.04

24,072.09

54,257.01

Publicity

41,299.89

85,889.95

38,564.03

66,469.36

Posters

132,782.19

31,187.51

79,610.99

63,269.03

Other election material

95,516.17

97,756.55

118,964.40

55,731.24

Office and stationery

9,101.11

30,099.66

22,970.06

12,173.03

Transport

24,170.56

23,114.38

23,442.28

17,882.00

Market research

17,469.71

5,320.50

363.00

16,820.41

Campaign workers

3,400.95

79,335.14

20,618.95

46,587.86

Table 2: Average campaign spend per candidate on different aspects of the campaign for party candidates, non-party candidates, the three most popular candidates (Higgins, Gallagher, McGuinness) and the four least popular candidates (Mitchell, Norris, Scallon, Davis) (Standards in Public Office Commission, 2012)

As a rough measure of gleaning the effectiveness of different areas of campaign expenditure, a comparison between the average campaign spend for the three strongest candidates (Higgins, Gallagher, McGuinness) and the rest of the field shows that these candidates’ average spends tended to be higher in the areas of other election material (e.g. leaflets), office and stationery, posters and transport, while being less significant in the areas of market research, campaign workers, advertising, and publicity.

  Advertising Publicity Posters Other election material
Davis 33,079.15 94,308.45 93,562.52 60,415.22
Gallagher 1,697.03 26,465.76 0.00 178,047.03
Higgins 55,338.35 44,875.75 146,825.85 75,981.56
McGuinness 15,180.89 44,350.59 92,007.11 102,864.60
Mitchell 147,909.97 34,673.34 159,513.60 107,702.34
Norris 36,038.93 109,654.63 0.00 31,037.68
Dana 0.00 27,241.00 0.00 23,769.72
  289,244.32 381,569.52 491,909.08 579,818.15

Table 3: Campaign spend by candidates on advertising, publicity, posters and other election material. (Standards in Public Office Commission, 2012)

  Office and stationery Transport Market research Campaign workers
Davis 17,156.10 29,001.38 9,861.50 76,657.00
Gallagher 51,729.41 13,725.24 0.00 51,653.98
Higgins 3,834.47 29,337.97 1,089.00 2,652.50
McGuinness 13,346.30 27,263.62 0.00 7,550.36
Mitchell 10,122.55 15,910.09 51,320.12 0.00
Norris 18,146.97 23,102.25 6,100.00 107,894.43
Dana 3,266.49 3,514.26 0.00 1,800.00
  117,602.29 141,854.81 68,370.62 248,208.27

Table 4: Campaign spend by candidates on office and stationery, transport, market and research and campaign workers. (Standards in Public Office Commission, 2012)

In the case of market research, the four lower placed candidates spent on average nearly fifty times the amount spent by Higgins, Gallagher and McGuinness, although this figure was very much shaped by the large spend by the Mitchell campaign in this area, amounting for 75.1% of the total amount spent on market research by all of the candidates, as shown by Table 4.

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About Adrian Kavanagh

Lecturer in Maynooth University Department of Geography.
This entry was posted in campaign expenditure, Candidates, presidential election and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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