Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Senate Landscape Shifting as Election Day Approaches

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Virginia, where former Gov. Tim Kaine is running for Senate, has seen the most independent expenditure spending overall.

Look no further for evidence of a fluid Senate landscape than where the party committees and outside groups have spent the most money over the past week.

According to data compiled by the Campaign Finance Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan think tank, almost $29 million in independent expenditures was spent on Senate races in the 10 most-targeted states during the past seven days. The presidential battleground states of Ohio and Virginia top the list, but they’re followed by none other than Indiana and Arizona — two states with GOP-held open seats that were among the last to emerge onto the competitive playing field.

Also included in that group is Nevada — a potential Democratic pickup that SKDKnickerbocker Managing Director J.B. Poersch believes, along with Maine and Massachusetts, give Democrats the edge in their quest to maintain control of the Senate.

“Several Senate races will go to the wire,” said Poersch, a strategist for the Democratic-aligned Majority PAC and former executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “But, given that Democrats have a legitimate chance to win in five GOP-held states, it’s more than likely we hold the majority.”

The path for Republicans to wipe out the Democrats’ 53-47 majority may have narrowed during the past few months with so many close races and the uncertainty surrounding GOP Rep. Todd Akin’s challenge of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in Missouri.

Yet the fight goes on, as every day another outside political group is launching a new round of television advertising in one of the contested states.

The emergence of the open seat in Connecticut as a competitive race has given Republicans another offensive opportunity that wasn’t necessarily apparent a year ago, and even the re-election race of Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) is far closer than ever imagined.

By the beginning of this week, national party committees and outside groups had spent more than $180 million on IEs in Senate races for the cycle, according to the numbers compiled by the CFI. With two weeks remaining and Senate control at stake, the IEs had already surpassed that of the entire 2010 cycle.

Much of the Senate spending that hasn’t flowed from the DSCC or the National Republican Senatorial Committee has come from a few groups with the goal to win the Senate majority. Just Tuesday morning, the Majority PAC released spots in Montana and Virginia, as the Republican-aligned Crossroads GPS and its affiliate American Crossroads launched ads there and six other states.

“Crossroads will keep ratcheting up the pressure to stop the wasteful spending, massive tax hikes and government health care takeover that these liberal politicians support,” Crossroads GPS spokesman Nate Hodson said in a statement accompanying one of the ad buy announcements.

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