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The shifts in the competitive playing field include an unlikely amount of offensive opportunities for Democrats, who are defending more than twice as many seats as Republicans. Rep. Joe Donnelly (D), who is running for the open Republican-held seat in Indiana, and former Surgeon General Richard Carmona (D), running for the open GOP-held seat in Arizona, released polls today that showed them with small leads.
The CFI list of states with the most outside spending in the past seven days is topped by Ohio, where about $25 million in independent expenditures has been spent so far, including $5.4 million in the past week. Despite the heavy spending in the state, which could decide the presidential race, a Quinnipiac University survey released Monday found Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) with a comfortable 9-point lead over state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R). However, the spending there indicates neither side believes the race is over.
About $3.8 million was spent in the past seven days in Virginia, another top presidential battleground, where former Govs. Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) both have reason to be confident heading into the final days. The Old Dominion has seen the most spending overall, with about $30 million in IEs spent so far.
Beyond the top four of Ohio, Virginia, Indiana and Arizona, the states that saw the most outside IEs for Senate races in the past week were: Wisconsin, Montana, Missouri, Connecticut, Nevada and North Dakota.
All but Nevada are offensive opportunities for Republicans. Massachusetts, where Sen. Scott Brown (R) is being challenged by Harvard University professor Elizabeth Warren (D), would likely have topped this list if the two hadnít agreed on a pledge that has successfully kept outside spending to a minimum.
Spending has slowed considerably in the final stretch in prohibitively expensive Florida, where Sen. Bill Nelson (D) is favored for re-election against Rep. Connie Mack IV (R). Early spending against Nelson has kept Florida among the top six targets for outside IE spending for the entire cycle at more than $14 million, but only $549,000 was spent in the Sunshine State in the past week.
Thatís good for only the 13th highest, according to the CFI list.
Correction: 12:50 p.m.
An earlier version of this article misidentified one of the states that J.B. Poersch listed as possible Democratic pickups. He mentioned Massachusetts, as well as Maine, Nevada, Arizona and Indiana.