For every vote he earned Tuesday, Gov. Paul LePage and his supporters spent $20.09.

Democrat Mike Michaud and the groups supporting him spent $38.68 per vote. Independent Eliot Cutler, who received far less financial support from outside groups, spent $61.83.

Although the final numbers won’t trickle in until next month, when post-election finance reports are due, as of Thursday nearly $19.2 million had been spent on the governor’s race alone — more than twice the amount spent in 2010.

“I think this is the new model in campaign spending, particularly the amount being spent by outside groups,” said Anthony Corrado, a Colby College professor and expert on campaign finance. “Part of the high spending this year was a function of how competitive the race was.”

LePage, who was re-elected to a second term with 48 percent of the vote, got the best deal with a level of spending that seems to reflect his fiscal conservative credentials.

The Republican’s campaign spent about $1.8 million, about $1 million less than both Michaud and Cutler. Factoring in the outside money that was spent to support LePage’s campaign and to oppose Michaud’s campaign — most of it coming from the Republican Governors Association — just shy of $5.9 million was invested in helping to elect LePage.

Michaud’s campaign spent $2.9 million and received a total of $7.2 million from political action committees and other outside groups supporting his campaign or opposing LePage.

Cutler nearly matched Michaud in campaign spending with about $2.8 million, but received only $342,000 in support from outside groups.

Spending this year dwarfed that of the 2010 governor’s race.

In 2010, the three major candidates — LePage, Cutler and Democrat Elizabeth Mitchell — combined to spend $5.1 million. This year, LePage, Cutler and Michaud spent a total of $7.5 million.

But the real disparity was in outside money.

Four years ago, $3.9 million in PAC money was spent on the governor’s race. This year, that ballooned to $11.6 million, aided in large part by Supreme Court rulings that eliminated any contribution limits.

Another $2.4 million in outside money was spent on legislative races.

“I think given recent actions by the Supreme Court, you’re not going to be able to stop the flow of independent spending or this unlimited giving by some wealthy contributors,” Corrado said. “And no candidate wants to lose because they didn’t spend enough.”

However, big spending didn’t lead to results.

Groups supporting Michaud spent more than $4 million just to oppose LePage, with most of that going to television advertising.

By comparison, pro-LePage PACs spent $1.9 million to oppose Michaud.

Corrado said his opinion is that most voters have come to expect big spending, but not everyone is happy about big money in Maine elections.

Cutler, for instance, talked often about PAC money during his campaign and said it gave the major parties a built-in advantage.

A nonprofit group, Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, has begun gathering signatures for a citizens’ initiative that would strengthen the Clean Elections system, funding for which has been reduced drastically under LePage.

Additionally, a coalition led by two Maine lawmakers has launched a petition drive to bring ranked-choice voting to Maine, an effort that could reduce the influence of money in campaigns.

Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, and Sen. Dick Woodbury, an independent from Yarmouth, announced the petition drive last week.

In a ranked-choice system, voters assign a number corresponding with their interest in a candidate, with first-choice candidates receiving a “1,” second-choice candidates a “2,” and so on for all the candidates in a particular race.

If successful, Maine would become the first state in the nation with an alternative vote-counting system for state, gubernatorial and federal elections.

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