Still, even with outside groups, candidatesí 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 donít.
Beyond Tossup races, challengers outraising incumbents can be a sign their campaigns are on the move toward a much more competitive race.
In Californiaís 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 Kentuckyís 6th district, Republican Andy Barr outraised Rep. Ben Chandler (D) in the period. Although the race is not yet a Tossup, Barrís strong fundraising means it probably will be soon.
In New Yorkís 11th district, Democrat Mark Murphy, not seen as a particularly strong candidate, outraised freshman Rep. Michael Grimm ó a less-than-ideal sign for the vulnerable Staten Island member who has ethical issues swirling around him.
A challenger outraising an incumbent isnít a political kill shot by any means, but itís 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.