These might be the most expensive votes ever bought. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, with 100 percent reporting, leads incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte for her U.S. Senate seat by just 716 votes out of a total of 737,772 votes cast.
That’s 0.09 percent in a race that has spent a gobsmacking $100 million in campaign funds. It works out to $139,664 per vote for the margin between Hassan and Ayotte.
It came down to the wire. In a state where Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by a mere 1,437 votes, the Democrats were able to just squeak Hassan over the wire.
[** UPDATE **] Ayotte has conceded the race, so the 716 votes are enough. There will be no recount.
According to Politico, candidates in New Hampshire can request a recount as long as the difference between winner and loser is less than 20 percent of the total votes in the towns where the election is contested. Without going through the whole list of N.H.’s 300 voting precincts (for such a tiny state, elections are operated a the most local level possible), it’s evident that Ayotte can request a fair number of recounts, possibly 100 or more.
She’ll probably focus on certain communities with a high number of absentee ballots, or results that don’t match the presidential or registered voter rolls of who showed up. For example, in Stratham, Ayotte lost by 60 votes, while Trump lost by 588 votes. It’s unlikely she’d pick up any there. But in Swanzey, Ayotte lost by 160 votes, while Trump won by 21 votes. Enough of those reverse split ticket discrepancies may find some votes.
It might be a given to recount in some of the larger cities like Manchester or Nashua, where Hassan won by hundreds (or thousands) of votes. We likely won’t know the results of any recount for days.
But at this point, it appears Ayotte, in the slimmest of margins, lost the most expensive political race in New Hampshire (and one of the most expensive Senate races, period) history.