- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2006

As the midterm elections head into the home stretch, it appears certain that neither party’s candidates in competitive races will be denied the opportunity to get their message to the electorate.

In terms of cash on hand at the end of September, Republican Senate and House candidates in the endgame battleground states and districts generally enjoy the financial advantages of incumbency. That said, almost all of their Democratic challengers have significantly exceeded the minimum threshold necessary to wage competitive races. At Sept. 30, the Republican Party’s three national fund-raising committees held a $10 million “ready-cash” advantage over their Democratic counterparts ($77 million vs. $67 million). However, any advantages that Republican fund-raising committees hold will almost certainly be sufficiently countered by the dramatically disproportionate advantages that the Democratic Party enjoys among 527 political committees, which make unlimited expenditures advocating issues that directly benefit parties and their candidates.

With $23 million in the bank, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee held a $11 million cash advantage over its Republican counterpart at the end of last month. And while the Republican National Committee had $26 million in cash compared to the Democratic National Committee’s $8 million, the DNC reportedly was borrowing millions of dollars to keep itself competitive.

In the House, where Democrats must gain 15 seats for a majority, election handicapper Charlie Cook currently rates four Republican seats as “lean[ing] Democratic” and 27 GOP-held seats as “toss-ups.” (There are no Democratic-held seats rated as “toss-ups.”) Among the 27 “toss-ups,” 19 Republican candidates (mostly incumbents) had more money than their Democratic opponents and 13 of those 19 had cash advantages of at least $500,000. Also, the National Republican Congressional Committee had $39.2 million in the bank, not much different from the $35.9 million held by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which reportedly was seeking to borrow $10 million or more before election day.

Meanwhile, data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), an independent campaign-finance watchdog group, reveal this noteworthy fact: Among 527 committees that have raised at least $1 million in the 2005-06 cycle, Democratic-oriented 527s ($77.7 million in total receipts) have outraised Republican-oriented committees ($18.7 million in total receipts). Confirming the thrust of CRP’s statistics, the equally independent Campaign Finance Institute studied the first 18 months of the current two-year cycle and concluded that “Democratic-oriented 527s hold a 3.5-1 financial advantage.”

Clearly, the traditional financial advantage of the Republican Party has been largely eliminated in this election.

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