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The Most Expensive House and Senate Races of 2012

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
In their race for the Massachusetts Senate seat, Brown (above) and Warren spent more combined than in any other race in the country.

Kaine, who consistently outraised Allen throughout the long race, ended up winning by 5 points. But polling until the last month continued to indicate it was a margin-of-error race between the two former governors, and neither campaign believed Kaine had that kind of edge. The sheer number of ads on the airwaves in Hampton Roads, Richmond and Northern Virginia was remarkable. The $28 million spent against Kaine was apparently not enough.

Ohio: Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown vs. Republican Josh Mandel

Candidates: $42,231,563

Outside: $36,976,592

Total: $79,208,155

In another state blanketed by both presidential and Senate ads, the amount of outside spending swelled as airtime prices ballooned. Brown received about $5 million more in negative advertising than Mandel, yet still won by 5 points. The spending is somewhat misleading, as this contest, which Republicans had high hopes for, never actually made it into the top tier of competitive races.

Mandel did not make an election-defining mistake like some of his fellow Republican Senate candidates, but he also couldn’t overcome Brown’s positive favorable ratings or Obama’s strong showing in the state. The nearly $11 million combined spent by Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against Brown wasn’t enough, either. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic-aligned Majority PAC combined to spend about $8 million.

Connecticut: Democratic Rep. Christopher S. Murphy vs. Republican Linda McMahon

Candidates: $58,320,208

Outside: $8,744,821

Total: $67,065,029

Like Massachusetts, the candidates in Connecticut were responsible for most of the spending in this race. Well, really one candidate: McMahon. The former WWE CEO loaned her campaign close to $49 million and spent nearly as much as she advertised on the expensive New York City media market.

Despite her spending, McMahon was running in a very Democratic state in a presidential year. Obama won the state by 18 points and nearly 300,000 votes, meaning McMahon would have needed about one-fifth of voters to cross over and support her. Murphy topped McMahon by 12 points.

Wisconsin: Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin vs. Republican Tommy Thompson

Candidates: $24,254,509

Outside: $39,348,004

Total: $63,602,513

This race emerged relatively late on the radar of GOP outside groups, who, coming out of the primary, allowed Baldwin to define Thompson, a former three-term governor, and frame the general election. But an all-out spending war ensued as both parties saw the swing state at the presidential and Senate levels as winnable.

The DSCC and Majority PAC were the two biggest outside spenders in this race, dropping nearly $11 million combined. The NRSC and Crossroads GPS followed, combining nearly $10 million in spending.

As Democrats hoped, Baldwin’s voting record, hometown of Madison and status as potentially the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Senate proved not to be hindrances of any kind to her statewide success. She defeated Thompson by more than 5 points.

House Florida’s 18th District: Republican Rep. Allen B. West vs. Democrat Patrick Murphy

Candidates: $22,326,422

Outside: $6,953,542

Total: $29,279,964

One of the closest and nastiest House races of the cycle also ended up being the most expensive. The vast majority of spending came from West, a high-profile, fiery member of the GOP freshman class, who spent nearly $18 million. Much of the outside spending came from the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC and West-supporting Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition, with each spending just under $2.5 million.

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