Given all the television advertisements during the campaign, it’s not surprising that Maine’s 2nd District congressional race this year shattered state spending records.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission this week show that the two candidates, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin and Democratic challenger Emily Cain, raised $6.85 million between them. Cain raised slightly more than Poliquin. 

But independent expenditures by political party groups and political action committees dwarfed even that. They poured at least $10.5 million more into the northern Maine race that Poliquin wound up winning by a 55-45 margin.

Lumping it all together, at least $17.35 million was spent on the race, which experts had pegged as one of the best shots for Democrats to pick up a Republican-held seat.

Put another way, the congressional candidates and their supporters spent a tad less than $50 a vote during the campaign. That’s about twice as much as the spending two years earlier when Poliquin defeated Cain in a three-way race to capture the seat.

All that money paid for substantial campaign staffs and get-out-the-vote efforts, but most of the money flowed into the coffers of television stations and advertising agencies.

The Wesleyan Media Project figured that the 2nd District contest had at least 21,785 advertisements through Oct. 30, substantially more than any other congressional match-up in the country.

To provide a comparison of how the spending soared, four years ago the two candidates for the seat held by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat, spent about $2 million between them. Michaud gave up the seat for an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2014.

In the end, Cain raised $3.5 million compared to $3.35 million for Poliquin.

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