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Still, even with outside groups, candidates’ third-quarter fundraising is important because their money can buy more ads per dollar: Candidates get the lowest rate per gross rating point when purchasing TV time; outside groups don’t.
Beyond Tossup races, challengers outraising incumbents can be a sign their campaigns are on the move toward a much more competitive race.
In California’s 36th district, Democrat Raul Ruiz outraised Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R) in the quarter. The NRCC recently went up on television there to bolster Bono Mack, a flag that the seat has moved to a more competitive race.
In Kentucky’s 6th district, Republican Andy Barr outraised Rep. Ben Chandler (D) in the period. Although the race is not yet a Tossup, Barr’s strong fundraising means it probably will be soon.
In New York’s 11th district, Democrat Mark Murphy, not seen as a particularly strong candidate, outraised freshman Rep. Michael Grimm — a less-than-ideal sign for the vulnerable Staten Island member who has ethical issues swirling around him.
A challenger outraising an incumbent isn’t a political kill shot by any means, but it’s a bright and visible flare for the incumbents that they need to have a whole lot of hustle in the final three weeks of their campaigns.