Republican candidates for open U.S. Senate seats dominated their Democratic rivals in fundraising during the last three months, while incumbent Democratic senators including Harry Reid also fell behind in the competition for campaign cash.
Reid, the Senate majority leader, raised $2.8 million in the period, as his Republican challenger for the Nevada Senate seat, Sharron Angle, brought in $14 million. Democratic Senators Patty Murray in Washington and Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas also raised less than their Republican rivals.
Republicans vying for open U.S. Senate seats in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire and Ohio reported millions of dollars in the bank heading into the final weeks before the Nov. 2 elections. The money will be critical as the parties battle for control of the House and Senate.
“Democratic incumbents and open-seat candidates face a forbidding political and economic climate,” said Rogan Kersh, a public policy professor at New York University. “With so many races that could tip either way, money will be a decisive factor in many of them.”
Senate fundraising reports had to be postmarked to the Federal Election Commission by yesterday. Some campaigns sent copies of summaries from the reports or disclosed figures.
The Angle campaign said it has raised an additional $3 million since the start of October, yet may be burning through cash faster than Reid’s campaign. Reid spent about $4 million less during the third quarter, finishing September with $4 million in cash, similar to the $4.1 million reported by Angle.
Reid spokesman Kelly Steele said the campaign had already reserved TV advertising through Election Day. “Our campaign is confident we have the necessary resources to turn out our voters,” he said. The race is one of 11 considered a tossup by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington.
Republican Dino Rossi raised more than $4 million between July 29 and Sept. 30 for his tossup bid to unseat Murray in Washington and ended up with $3.5 million in the bank. Murray raised more than $3 million and had $1.2 million in cash.
Republican Arkansas Representative John Boozman raised $1.65 million for his Senate bid, about twice as much as Lincoln. Boozman ended up with $1.3 million in the bank at the end of September, his campaign said. Lincoln had $1.1 million.
In Colorado, another tossup race, the picture was more mixed. Democratic Senator Michael Bennet raised $2.7 million between July 22 and Sept. 30, leaving him with $1 million in cash at the end of the month. Republican Ken Buck raised $2.1 million in that time and had $1.4 million in the bank.
In open seats, Republicans reported clear cash advantages.
Republican Representative Mark Kirk had about $3 million more in the bank at the end of September than Democrat Alexi Giannoulias for their tossup race to fill the seat once held by President Barack Obama.
Missouri Republican Representative Roy Blunt had a cash advantage of more than $1.6 million over Democrat Robin Carnahan, Missouri’s secretary of state. In New Hampshire, Republican Kelly Ayotte, a former state attorney general, had $1.1 million in the bank, about twice as much as Democratic Representative Paul Hodes.
In Indiana, former Republican Senator Dan Coats had $1.4 million in cash, topping the $835,588 on hand for Democratic Representative Brad Ellsworth. Cook considers Missouri a tossup, while New Hampshire and Indiana are among six races, including Arkansas, rated as “lean Republican.”
“Democrats are struggling with open-seat races because those are often a tossup, and in a year when the tide is running so strongly against Democrats, well, it’s all the more difficult to swim upriver,” said Steffen Schmidt, a political science professor at Iowa State University in Ames.
Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate in Florida, had more than $5.5 million in cash at the end of September, his campaign said. His Democratic opponent, Representative Kendrick Meek, and the independent candidate, Governor Charlie Crist, hadn’t reported as of late last night.
In Ohio, Republican Rob Portman had $6.2 million in cash. Lee Fisher, his Democratic opponent, also hadn’t reported.
There were some bright spots for Democrats.
Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer in California and Russ Feingold in Wisconsin, both in tossup races, each ended up with more cash than their Republican rivals. Boxer had about $4.7 million more than her challenger, former Hewlett-Packard Co. Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina, and Feingold had about $1.5 million more than Republican Ron Johnson.
In the tossup Pennsylvania Senate race, Democratic Representative Joe Sestak had about $400,000 more in the bank than former Republican Representative Pat Toomey.
House and Senate Democratic fundraising committees also reported $67 million in the bank as of the end of September, while Senate and House Republicans reported $38 million. Democrats need the money to make up for the candidates’ fundraising surge and spending by Republican-leaning outside groups that are flooding the airwaves with political ads.
“Republicans are excited, Democrats are tired,” said Julian Zelizer, a history and public affairs professor at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. “In tight races, money will matter very much as Democrats will be bombarded by a blitz of ads.”