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Outside political spending continues to skyrocket

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Outside political spending continued to spiral to dizzying heights with week, with a total $110.8 million poured into campaigns since last Friday, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.

The amount brings total outside spending to $470.8 million since Sept. 7, when the FEC began requiring all political expenditures to be reported regardless of their content. And another $300,000 in expenditures, not included in our totals for the week, were filed between midnight and 9:30 a.m. Friday. That means that of the $810 million in outside spending that Sunlight's Follow the Unlimited Money has tracked since the beginning of the campaign cycle, more than half has been laid out in the last six weeks. 

Spending by Democratic groups slowed, even as their Repubican counterparts up the ante. While pro-Republican groups were doubling down on the competition earlier this week, the gap closed slightly Thursday. Pro-Democratic spending jumped to $44.4 million compared to $65.5 for GOPers. Democratic outside have a lead in Senate spending, but Republicans are far ahead in other races. Here's the breakdown: 

This week, outside spenders' focus on congressional races is even more pronounced, with two-fifths of the cash pouring into House races. Thirteen House races drew more than $1 million a piece, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and National Republican Congressional Commitee poured a combined $18.4 million into various contests.

Senate races also attracted heavy spending for a combined weekly total of $38.2 million -- $18.2 million to help Democrats and $12.9 for Republicans. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Majority PAC dropped $13.2 million, while Karl Rove's non-profit Crossroads GPS, along with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, countered with $9.7 milion on GOP Senate candidates. 

The highlights:

  • Illinois House races pulled in almost $6 million. In the 10th district, where Republican freshman Rep. Robert Dold faces off against Democratic challenger Brad Schneider, outside groups dropped in $1.5 million. DCCC and House Majority PAC spent $966,000 to oppose Dold, while the rest went against Schneider, mostly from the NRCC. 
  • California House competitions attracted $6.7 million, weighted toward the state's 7th, 10th, and 52nd Congressional Districts. 
  • The Wisconsin and Virginia Senate races continue to be huge magnets for outside cash. Virginia's race drew $5.9 million as Democrat  Tim Kaine faces Republican George Allen for the seat to be vacated by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Both Kaine and Allen are former Virginia governors and Allen occupied the Senate seat before Webb defeated him six years ago. In Wisconsin, another former governor, Republican Tommy Thompson, faces against Rep. Tammy Baldwin for the seat of retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis. In that race. outside groups made $4.1 million in expenditures during the past week, including $1.2 million from Crossroads GPS and $930,000 from the DSCC.
  • Pop-up group Citizen Awareness Project, Inc. came out of nowhere to drop $1 million against President Barack Obama.