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Website Spending for Presidential Campaigns.

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Over here at Mandate Media, we've been working on an analysis of the Democratic primary candidates' website expenditures. That's coming soon, but now comes word that Campaigns & Elections magazine has done a full analysis of the Bush and Kerry spending patterns (subscription required) - and their analysis includes this bit about online spending:

According to FEC records compiled by Political Money Line and tabulated by Campaigns & Elections, Kerry’s campaign has spent almost $750,000 on Web services and other Internet related costs, a ridiculously small amount for such a large return. Even with the campaign having to spend more than $1 million on credit card processing fees, the return on investment was still enormous.

After bouncing between the $14,000 and $16,000 a month for 2003 and the first two months of 2004, Kerry’s Internet costs skyrocketed in March as he became the presumptive nominee and started harnessing the fund-raising potential of the Internet. From March through May, he spent $405,000, at a time when his campaign was raking in a return of $45 million.

“Clearly the most cost-efficient component is online because once you’ve built it, the cost per dollar is very small,” Meehan said, noting that the beauty of e-mail fund-raising is that it costs nothing to send an e-mail, whereas with direct mail the price of postage mounts very quickly.

Bush’s direct-mail is “a much more expensive operation than what you’ve seen in the Kerry campaign, which has had much more success on the Internet … which has not only allowed them to reduce their fund-raising costs, but has allowed them to in essence free up their money,” for use on other items, Corrado said.

The Bush campaign has spent $1.23 million on Web services and other Internet related costs. It has not disclosed the amount it’s raised online. According to campaign reports, it started spending money on the Web site in June 2003, and the monthly costs wavered between $20,000 and $116,000 through November. Starting in December, however, the campaign spent an average of $147,000 a month on the internet, including $229,000 in May.

Interesting analysis - but we're not sure it's right. We're still working on our analysis, but the inital numbers have Kerry averaging about $27 thousand a month from January 2003 to February 2004.