San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Elections 2014

Winning on the cheap: Solís campaign spent a quarter of what Araya spent in the last election

Campaign spending results reveal that Luis Guillermo Solís and the Citizen Action Party (PAC) won Costa Rica’s 2014 presidential elections despite being outspent by a substantial margin.

PAC spent the third most of any party, behind the National Liberation Party (PLN) and the Libertarian Movement Party (ML), according to results obtained by the Supreme Elections Tribunal (TSE). The PLN and its candidate, former San José mayor Johnny Araya, spent $10.8 million compared to Solís’ figure of $2.8 millon. ML and its nominee, Otto Guevara, had the worst return on its investment, spending $4 million and coming in fourth in a first-round vote in February.

PLN outspent PAC in virtually every category, especially in staff salaries, where it maintained almost a 10-to-one advantage. However, PAC reported spending $64,000 on Internet advertising and web design compared to PLN’s $28,000. Prior to February’s Election Day, Solís said that his strong online and social media organizing would help vault him to victory.

Of the top five parties, PAC and FA were the most efficient with their elections spending, getting one vote for every $2.55 and $0.72 spent, respectively. FA’s numbers are misleading, as the TSE did not have their spending reports from January and February. ML had the worst performance on its campaign dollars, spending $10.10 for every vote received. This analysis included votes for president and the Legislative Assembly on Feb. 6, and did not include votes in the runoff election in April.

The TSE figures track spending by parties from October 2013 until the end April. Explore the full spending results below. The comparison with the U.S. election only includes spending from Costa Rica’s top five parties. “Office costs and supplies” refers to rent, electricity, computers, vehicles, fuel and other similar expenses.

Contact Corey Kane at ckane@ticotimes.net5

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Ken Morris

Just from watching the soccer games, I noticed that the PLN and ML were dominating the commercials, and took that as a good enough reason not to support either party.

As the incumbent party and initially favored to win, the PLN was probably attracting a lot of institutional political investors, so to speak. Although a bit unsavory, this is politics as usual and the PLN probably shouldn’t be faulted (although its tendency to pay staff hints at the clientism that is a core problem with the PLN’s fiscal management in government).

Sad and unfortunately probably telling is the money that rolled into the ML. I like to think of Libertarians as principled folks, and some are, but the standard criticism is that they’re a bunch of rich people who only want to get richer. The money to vote ratio suggests that there’s something to this standard criticism.

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