According to campaign records, candidates raised and spent $51 million. That’s $8 million more than the last record-breaking year in 2011, when candidates for the state Senate races raised and spent $43 million.
But all that money didn’t translate to that many voters. Turnout was low, about 30 percent. And every incumbent won. Republicans were able to hold on to their open seats, and Democrats were able to hold on to their open seats.
“Never has so much money resulted in so little change as Virginia Senate elections of 2015,” says Stephen Farnsworth, political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “Divided government is particularly effective for ramping up the cost of Senate races because both parties saw the opportunity to gain a majority and both parties hit up their donors with a great deal of enthusiasm.”