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Your vote is worth five bucks, give or take, this election

In an exclusive interview Thursday onboard Air Force One, President Barack Obama told NBC's Brian Williams that he believes the amount of money being spent in his campaign and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign, along with Super Pac spending, is "ridiculous." Williams' complete profile of the president's recent two-day campaign blitz airs Thursday, Oct. 25 at 10pm/9c on NBC's Rock Center.

President Barack Obama and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney are spending a combined $26.86 every second this election cycle, as a binge of campaign spending deluges voters with rallies, banners, and of course, TV ads.

The figure comes from a grand total of nearly $1.5 billion spent by both sides just through September. And that works out to about $70 million per month, and more than $2.3 million every day, according to data provided by the Federal Election Commission.


No wonder both candidates spend so much time in fundraisers.

From January 2011 through September, the Obama campaign burned through over $470 million, with the Democratic National Committee spending another $255 million.

And the top three Obama Super PACs dumped in another $53.7 million. All that totals more than $775 million spent — before the crucial election month of October.

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On the Romney side, the campaign had spent $298 million in that same time frame, which was joined by $249 million by the Republican National Committee and $156.5 million from the top three Romney Super Pacs. All told, that’s more than $700 million.

The Obama team held the lead by about $75 million as of September.

From tramping through cornfields to munching ice cream cones to holding babies – the time-honored traditions of the campaign trail leave President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney looking surprisingly alike.

Historically, these are big, big numbers.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan plus the DNC and RNC spent a combined $528 million in 2012-adjusted dollars. By 2000, that figure had jumped to $899 million in adjusted dollars.

That means the campaigns are spending a lot more per voter than they did years ago. Take a look at the math.

With more than $770 million in campaign and Super Pac spending for Obama this year, the forces supporting the president have spent about $5.33 per registered voter when you calculate using the total number of registered voters in the last campaign, which was just over 146.3 million.

Romney’s team, similarly, has spent about $4.81 per voter. Combined, that’s $10.14 per registered voter.

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Compare that to how much it cost to reach registered voters in 1980: The $528 million spent by Reagan and Carter campaigns plus their parties reached fewer voters — 105 million registered voters. That made total spending over $5 per registered voter.

Twenty years later, George W. Bush and Al Gore and their party committees combined spent $899 million to reach that year’s nearly 130 million registered voters. That’s just under $7 per registered voter.

By our math, the cost to reach each voter in America has gone up consistently over the past three decades. There's lesson in that for the campaigns and the fundraisers who push for more cash each year: that flood of money is causing political inflation. And that makes the constant reach for new fundraising records a self-fulfilling prophesy.

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