Outside Campaign Spending Heavily Favors Republicans

Six of top 10 outside groups favor Republicans.

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As Election Day approaches, Republican candidates are getting more outside assistance in their campaigning than their Democratic opponents. Republican national party committees and conservative organizations make up 6 of the 10 groups that spent the most last week on independent expenditures according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Combined, those six right-leaning groups spent $8.9 million in independent expenditures last week, while organizations in the top 10 supporting Democrats spent $3.7 million. Independent expenditures are political communications that an organization makes in support of or against specific candidates, without coordinating with those candidates or their opponents.

National party committees are regularly among the biggest spenders on political ads, and last week the two national GOP committees reported spending a combined $4.2 million, $900,000 more than the two Democratic committees together. The top spender, the National Republican Congressional Committee, spent over $3 million on survey research and advertising opposing 29 Democratic House candidates, including Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton and North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy. The National Republican Senatorial Committee took a more targeted approach, spending all of its reported $1.2 million in independent expenditures on advertising opposing West Virginia Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin, who is vying against Republican John Raese for the Senate seat currently held by Democrat Carte Goodwin. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, No. 3 on the list, reported $2.2 million in spending last week, including $165,000 spent on opposing Delaware Senate GOP hopeful Christine O'Donnell. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent its $1.1 million in independent expenditures last week on opposing 14 Republican House candidates from across the country. Their roster of targets includes Hawaii Rep. Charles Djou and Wisconsin House candidate Sean Duffy, seeking to fill the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. David Obey.

Taken together, the six groups on the list that are not party committees heavily favored Republican candidates in their spending. Four of these six groups are ideologically conservative organizations. American Crossroads, a group that counts George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove among its founders, reported more independent expenditures than three of the national party committees, with $2.9 million spent on opposing Democratic Senate candidates across the country. (This total does not include the money spent by Crossroads Grassroots Policy Solutions, a non-profit organization affiliated with the group, which itself funded $240,000 in ads opposing Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Joe Sestak last week.) The American Future Fund spent nearly $1 million opposing Democratic House candidates, including $133,000 against Illinois Democratic Rep. Deborah Halvorson.

The only left-leaning group in the top 10, Commonsense Ten, spent less than one-seventh of American Crossroads' total last week, with $412,000 in independent expenditures. All of this money was spent opposing Dino Rossi, who is running against Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray for her seat. The only nonideological and nonpartisan organization in the mix, the National Associaton of Realtors PAC, also favored the GOP, lending its support to three incumbent Republican House candidates: Washington's David Reichert, California's Ken Calvert, and Pennsylvania's Paul Kanjorski.

Below are the 10 groups that spent the most on independent expenditures last week.

Amount Spent on
Independent Expenditures
NRCC $3,020,958
American Crossroads $2,948,620
DSCC $2,241,436
NRSC $1,211,420
DCCC $1,088,893
American Future Fund $996,598
National Association
of Realtors PAC
Club for Growth $409,829
Commonsense Ten $412,000
Revere America $332,516

Data covers electronically filed reports of expenditures made from September 19 through 25. As senatorial committees (DSCC and NRSC) may file their expenditure reports on paper, rather than electronically, the data on their expenditures may be incomplete.