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The numbers: The election's big spenders

Now that Election Day is over, how much money did candidates spend?

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, candidates, parties and outside groups spent a staggering $3.9 billion in pursuit of elective office this cycle.

In raw numbers, Meg Whitman topped the list -- more than $160 million spent for media buys, consultants, and high-tech campaign tools, in a losing bid to become the next governor of California, with $140 million of it from her own checking account. In all, her spending was comparable to the entire budget for the National Endowment for the Arts, which is $161.4 million.

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On a votes per dollar basis the winner -- well, loser, actually -- was probably Linda McMahon in the Connecticut Senate race. She spent more than $40 million, much of it her own, convincing 543,000 people to put an X by her name on the ballot in a losing effort.

Of the self-funded candidates running for federal office, 58 contributed at least $500,000 to their campaigns, data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows.

Other big-spending, self-funded candidates? Florida Democrat Jeff Greene spent $24 million of his own money in a run for the Senate, but failed to win the Democratic nomination in the state's primary. While California Republican Carly Fiorina failed to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Fiorina spent around $5.5 million of her own money.

Top 10 biggest self-funding federal candidates for the 2010 election

  1. Linda McMahon (R-Conn.) -- $46.6 million raised, $46 million self-funded, lost bid for the Senate
  2. Jeff Greene (D-Fla.) -- $23.8 million raised, $23.7 million self-funded, lost state's primary election
  3. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) -- $12 million raised, $8.2 million self-funded, won bid for the Senate
  4. Steve Pagliuca (D-Mass.) -- $8.3 million raised, $7.5 million self-funded, lost state's primary election
  5. William H. Binnie (R-N.H.) -- $7.8 million raised, $6.5 million self-funded, lost state's primary election
  6. Carly Fiorina (R-Calif.) -- $17 million raised, $5.5 million self-funded, lost bid for the Senate
  7. John R. Raese (R-W.Va.) -- $6.2 million raised, $4.6 million self-funded, lost bid for the Senate
  8. George S. Flinn, Jr. (R-Tenn.) -- $3.7 million raised, $3.5 million self-funded, lost state's primary election
  9. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) -- $3.7 million raised, $2.4 million self-funded, won bid for the House
  10. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) -- $3.7 million raised, $2.2 million self-funded, lost bid for the House

(Credit: Center for Responsive Politics)

And while we're discussing numbers, the money poured into this election by outside groups totals nearly $300 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But only about 58 percent of the expenditures can be accounted for. Certain groups are not required by law to disclose their donors. See a full list of the top outside spending groups.

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Oh, one more number for you: only 734 days until the 2012 elections.

About the author

Daryl Paranada is the associate web producer for Marketplace overseeing all daily website content and production, as well as producing multimedia features -- including the popular economic explainer series Whiteboard -- and special projects. Follow him on Twitter @darylparanada.

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