The job of turning Georgia BLUE is expensive in part because Georgia is geographically the largest state east of the Mississippi River and the ninth most populous state in the nation, with 10.5 million people. The Georgia General Assembly has 180 House members and 56 Senators, the third largest in the nation behind only New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
Surprisingly, some much larger states have far smaller legislatures. Florida has a 40 member Senate and a 120 member House, while California has a 40 member Senate and an 80 member House. In fact, California State Senators represent more citizens than a member of Congress and typically have larger staffs.
The population for a Georgia house district ranges from about 52,000 to 56,000 and for a Senate seat from 155,000 to 170,000. Historically, Georgia has been one of the nation’s least competitive for legislative races, but that all changed in 2018. While the national average for legislators who seek re-election facing no opposition from the opposition party hovers at about 38 percent, in Georgia the number was 80 percent in 2014 and 2016 and 76 percent in 2012. However, in November 2018, 95 of 236 seats were contested, with many Republicans who had not seen a serious contest in years, sometimes decades, facing a challenge.
With widely ranging variances in population density and the cost and size of television markets, there is no real way to generalize what it costs to run for office in Georgia because a successful bid for city of Atlanta council or school board seat may cost two or three times as much as running for a legislative seat in a rural area of the state.
However, it generally takes more than $250,000 to FLIP a metro Senate seat and more than $100,000 to FLIP a metro House seat.
- $1,000 funds 75 hours of paid canvassing to reach 2,250 households
- $500 funds printing of 2,500 pieces of campaign literature
- $250 funds postage for 700 pieces of mail
- $100 funds 30 union shop printed yard signs
- $75 funds a Facebook ad designed to reach an audience of 4,000
- $50 funds 150 buttons or 200 bumper stickers
- $25 funds 35 paid live phone calls to likely voters or water & snacks for a team waving campaign signs at a heavily traveled major intersection
Radio and television ad costs vary widely between media markets, station demographics and the time of day ads run. In some markets, commercial television or radio ads are cost prohibitive. In others, candidates find specifically targeted cable television purchases or radio ads a wise investment. Friday night high school football game coverage on local cable stations are a favorite for candidates in General Election contests, for example.