Less than two weeks before the election, outside spending took another big leap last week, jumping to $180 million since last Friday and favoring Republicans nearly two-to-one.
A Sunlight analysis based on filings with the Federal Election Commission records shows that outside spenders gave $119 million to help Republican candidates, compared to $61 million for Democrats. Expenditures by outside interest groups continued their near vertical climb since Sept. 7, when the FEC began requiring organizations to report all independent expenditures.
Outside spending started at $26 million for the first week of the period and has climbed steadily since. This week's total represents a 63 percent increase over the week before. This brings the total outside spending for the 2012 election cycle to more than $1 billion.
After several weeks in which outside spenders were more focused on House and Senate races, they returned their attention to the presidential race this week. Of the more than $70 million spent by outside groups, including super PACs, 501(c)4 non-profits, and party committees, a staggering $55 million went to boost Republican hopeful Mitt Romney, compared to $15 million for President Barack Obama.
Senate races received almost $59 million last week. The Virginia Senate contest, where former Democratic governor Tim Kaine and former Republican Sen. George Allen are facing off, was the biggest magnet for outside spending, pulling in more than $10 million. Two other hotly-contested Senate races in Wisconsin and Ohio each drew close to $7 million in outside spending. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Majority PAC, a group formed by former Democratic Senate staffers, were the most active Senate spenders. But spending by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Republican Senatorial Committee and Crossroads GPS help swing the outside spending advantage back toward Republicans in the contests that will determine which party controls the Senate next year.
House spending increased only slightly this week; races saw $52 million, up from last week's $48 million total. The races in Ohio's 16th Congressional District and Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District both received more than $2 million from outside givers; 23 other House contests received more than $1 million each.
- Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Romney, is this week's biggest spender, putting in $20.5 million. Priorities USA, Obama's super PAC, spent only a little over $9 million.
- Karl Rove's groups, Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads, are once again some of the biggest spenders for the week. Together, they dropped $31 million in the House, Senate, and presidential races.
- Several pro-life groups spent $156,000 to support Richard Mourdock, the Republican nominee for Senate in Indiana who came under fire for for saying that rape resulting in pregnancy " is something that God intended to happen. "Mourdock also received a $26,000 boost from Gun Owners of America.