Libertarians should see opportunity in Gubernatorial elections as they are elections Libertarians can fully fund and win.

Many States have elections that are winnable for a few million dollars (or less), and history has proven that when motivated, Libertarians are more than capable of raising the level of funds that are needed to win at the Gubernatorial level.

When I took a look at election costs in Gubernatorial races over the past several years, I noticed two interesting phenomenon.

1.) Incumbent candididates will raise milllions of dollars even if the competition raises well under one hundred thousand.

Why raise over $6 million for a Gubernatorial campaign when your challenger only raises $13,865, as was the case in the last Gubernatorial election in Tennessee (see chart below)? Clearly, the money that comes in during campaigns without a challenger are just bribes from special interests (pretty sickening actually), and so it is hard to know the true cost of an election in these states.

2.) During Robert Sarvis’ last campaign Robert was able to bring in votes at an average cost of $1.46 per vote. That’s twenty-four times less than the cost of a vote for Virgnia Gubernatorial victor Terry McAuliffe.

Campaign finance reports through November 28, 2013
Candidate Spent Votes Cost per Vote
Terry McAuliffe $38,003,836 1,069,789 $35.52
Ken Cuccinelli $20,942,496 1,013,354 $20.67
Robert Sarvis $213,781 146,084 $1.46
Source: Virginia Public Access Project[91][92][93][94]

Twenty four times less the cost per vote is an incredibly significant number.

While I do not believe we can count on beating our competition (in terms of vote cost) by a factor of 24 in every election (and certainly not in an election where we gain enough votes to win), I do think it’s true that Libertarian votes cost less to achieve, and that Libertarian voters (even new ones) are more politically active and more likely to vote in the general election.

If we agree that a Libertarian could pay half what a Democrat or Republican would need to pay to win an election, we see an interesting breakdown of very affordable elections:

  • We can win in six states for under $1 Million per race
  • We can win six states for under $2 Million per race
  • We can win in nine states for under $3 Million per race
  • We can win in six states for under $4 Million per race
  • We can win in five states for under $5 Million per race

The verdict: Libertarians can raise the money needed to win a large number of Gubernatorial elections.


About this table:

Please set the “Show 10 entries” selection at the top left of the table to “50” so you can see all of the states on one page.

The Cost column lists the price paid by the WINNER of the election.

The 2nd Place column is the number of funds raised for the runner-up.

The 50% and 10% columns are what it would cost a Libertarian to win if his or her cost were 50% or 10% of what the last cycle’s winner raised during their race. Data from


StateCost2nd PlaceWinnerValueLP Cost Projection @ 50%LP Cost Projection @ 10%
New Hampshire$1,131,401$1,609,365OPENREAL COST$565,700$113,140
Alaska$1,243,101$1,329,268CHALLENGERREAL COST$621,550$124,310
Vermont$1,685,616$2,315,405OPENREAL COST$842,808$168,561
North Dakota$1,767,696$817,783OPENREAL COST$883,848$176,769
Maine$2,023,422$3,093,097INCUMBENTREAL COST$1,011,711$202,342
Idaho$2,489,671$4,150,884INCUMBENTREAL COST$1,244,835$248,967
South Dakota$3,123,327$314,446INCUMBENTINFLATED$1,561,663$312,332
Montana$3,284,520$8,581,755INCUMBENTREAL COST$1,642,260$328,452
Utah$3,657,036$3,107,337INCUMBENTREAL COST$1,828,518$365,703
Hawaii$3,755,167$2,205,219OPENREAL COST$1,877,583$375,516
Minnesota$3,792,944$2,496,352INCUMBENTREAL COST$1,896,472$379,294
Arkansas$4,541,880$6,366,771OPENREAL COST$2,270,940$454,188
Kansas$4,719,807$4,611,364INCUMBENTREAL COST$2,359,903$471,980
Oregon$5,264,547$3,043,556INCUMBENTREAL COST$2,632,273$526,454
West Virgnia$5,449,768$2,946,764OPENREAL COST$2,724,884$544,976
Colorado$5,626,403$2,901,289INCUMBENTREAL COST$2,813,201$562,640
Kentucky$5,835,070$14,489,447INCUMBENTREAL COST$2,917,535$583,507
Rhode Island$6,260,062$1,568,582OPENINFLATED$3,130,031$626,006
Maryland$6,523,273$15,717,808OPENREAL COST$3,261,636$652,327
Connecticut$6,780,072$8,593,923INCUMBENTREAL COST$3,390,036$678,007
Arizona$8,081,966$5,554,672OPENREAL COST$4,040,983$808,196
South Carolina$8,411,693$4,293,914INCUMBENTINFLATED$4,205,846$841,169
New Mexico$8,529,190$2,010,337INCUMBENTINFLATED$4,264,595$852,919
Mass$10,046,479$6,880,288OPENREAL COST$5,023,239$1,004,647
Louisiana$10,346,660$11,062,461OPENREAL COST$5,173,330$,1034,666
Florida$10,765,392$14,411,770INCUMBENTREAL COST$5,382,696$1,076,539
Michigan$12,625,208$7,275,599INCUMBENTREAL COST$6,312,604$1,262,520
Georgia$14,759,971$7,722,371INCUMBENTREAL COST$7,379,985$1,475,997
North Carolina$15,579,318$24,418,706INCUMBENTREAL COST$7,789,659$1,557,931
Indiana$15,883,910$17,563,676OPENREAL COST$7,941,955$1,588,391
New Jersey$20,259,597$6,136,458INCUMBENTINFLATED$10,129,798$2,025,959
Missouri$32,111,918$28,709,071OPENREAL COST$16,055,959$3,211,191
New York$34,971,042$6,067,591INCUMBENTINFLATED$17,485,521$3,497,104
Pennsylvania$36,303,191$33,975,527CHALLENGERREAL COST$18,151,595$3,630,319
Virginia$37,898,782$21,348,095OPENREAL COST$18,949,391$3,789,878