Conservative interest groups have dumped well over $20 million into congressional races so far this year, outspending their liberal opponents 4 to 1 and setting off a growing panic among Democrats struggling to regain the House and hold on to their slim majority in the Senate.
The surge suggests that big-spending super PACs and nonprofit groups, which have become dominant players in the presidential race, will also play a pivotal role in House and Senate contests that will determine the balance of power in Washington in 2013.
Interest groups on both sides have reported spending $29.7 million on congressional races so far this election cycle, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission reports.
The spending is more than twice the amount similar groups had spent at this point ahead of the 2008 elections. It’s also higher than the $25.2 million spent during the 2010 midterms, when several high-profile special elections and primary fights drove outside expenditures to new heights.
Spending among the largest groups favors Republicans by about 4 to 1, although that is due in part to a number of fierce Republican primary fights, the data show. GOP Senate primaries in Indiana and Texas, for example, have each drawn more than $4 million in spending by independent groups.The Hill reports:
House Republicans raised almost $7 million in April, out-raising their Democratic counterparts by almost one-half million dollars.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $6.9 million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s $6.5 million. With $31 million in the bank, Republicans also have a cash-on-hand advantage over Democrats of more than $6 million.