How much does it cost to win a seat in Congress? If you have to ask…

Updated
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Gary Cameron/Reuters

Question: How much does it cost to win a seat in Congress?

Answer: A lot!

According to Maplight, a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that tracks money in politics, House candidates who won in 2012 raked in an average of $1,689,580 in campaign contributions. That’s about $2,315 each day.

Those numbers climb substantially if you’re running for Senate. Candidates who won a seat in Congress’ upper chamber each raised an average of $10,476,451. That’s $14,351 per day.

Of course, not all seats are created equally.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts hauled in the most money—$42,506,349—to win in a tough race against Republican Scott Brown. The least amount raised goes to American Somoa Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, with $110,570.

While it may not come as a huge surprise that it takes a lot of money to win a congressional election, if you compare the numbers to previous years, the cost of elections has skyrocketed. That may be in large part due to the 2010 landmark United States Supreme Court Case, Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission, in which the Court ruled that corporations could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence federal elections.

In 2008, the average cost of winning a House seat was about $1.1 million and $6.5 million for a Senate seat.

And if you look at the total costs of elections, that’s increased substantially too.

For example, take a look at past presidential election cycles. In 2004, the total cost of elections was $4.1 billion. In 2008? The cost was $5.3 billion. And most recently in 2012? Elections cost $6.3 billion—the most expensive on the books.

How much does it cost to win a seat in Congress? If you have to ask...

Updated