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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Election Said To Be Most Expensive

Next month's mid-term election for control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate will be the most expensive midterm election ever, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Candidates, national political parties and outside issue groups will spend roughly $2.6 billion by the end of 2006 to influence the 472 federal contests around the United States and pad the war chests of incumbents not running this year, the organization says.

The non-partisan center, which has been tracking the money in federal politics since the 1980s, says it based its 2006 prediction on spending to date and the final tally for the 2002 midterm election.

In 2004, which included a presidential contest, the election cost $4.2 billion. About $2.2 billion was spent in 2002, which preceded campaign finance reforms that limited the influence of large
corporate and union donors. The estimate for 2006 would represent an 18% increase over '02, the center says.

"The torrid pace of fundraising for this election is a reflection of how competitive November 7th will be," says Sheila Krumholz, the center's acting executive director and longtime research director. "As Election Day approaches, it's important for candidates and citizens to remember that you can't win without votes either."

All candidates for House and Senate have raised nearly $1.3 billion, based on data available from the Federal Election Commission on Oct. 23. Candidates still in the running for House have raised, on average, about $760,000, while Senate candidates have raised $5.8 million (which includes money raised since the start of the six-year term in 2001). Incumbent senators have a 4:1 advantage over their current challengers, on average. House incumbents have outraised their current challengers 7:2.

Republicans are expected to retain their edge in fundraising through the election. The center predicts that Republican interests-candidates, party committees and conservative advocacy groups-will spend $1.4 billion on this election. Democratic interests will spend $1.2 billion, the center projects.

The money paying for the election-the home-stretch advertising, voter mobilization and other campaigning-is coming from the same industries and interests that have largely funded past elections. Topping the Center's 2006 list of big donors are lawyers, the real estate industry, Wall Street and, as usual, contributors who list their occupation as "retired." Business interests account for about three-quarters of all contributions, with ideological, labor and other interests making up the rest.

"The industries and interests funding the 2006 election have been big givers for years, and they're building on their influence now. They're making an investment they hope will pay off once the 110th Congress takes office in January," Krumholz says.

To find out more about the influence of political action committees (PACs), the top industries funding the election, individual donors, 527 committees and-despite the hot races that will determine control of Congress-the overall lack of competition in congressional contests, see the center's full report at


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