In what has become the most costly midterm elections in history, one House and one Senate race have managed to outpace the competition in burning up cash, indicating how seriously both sides take the hotly contested seats: Florida’s neck-and-neck senatorial race and California’s 25th congressional district.
“All up, it is a record for a congressional midterm cycle,” Reuters reports. “Candidates, political parties and outside groups are set to spend more than $5.2 billion on House and Senate contests combined, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.”
With Real Clear Politics giving Republicans 50 “safe” seats, the Democrats need to win all 7 toss-up seats, including Florida, as well as one of the seats currently “leaning” Republican. With the stakes so high, it’s no wonder that the money has been flowing in Florida.
Florida incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has found himself in a bruising battle with Republican Gov. Rick Scott for one of the coveted “toss-up” senate seats. On the eve of the election, Real Clear Politics’ average of the polls gives Nelson a 2.5-point advantage. A recent St. Pete Polls survey of over 3000 voters gives Nelson a 4-point lead, while Emerson and Quinnipiac give him a 5-point and 7-point lead, respectively.
The two candidates and their supporters have spent nearly $160 million on the election, over $50 million more than the next most expensive race. “Nelson’s campaign spent about $25 million while outside groups splashed out $45 million supporting him or opposing Scott, who spent nearly $67 million,” Reuters reports. “Outside groups spent $22 million supporting him and opposing Nelson.”
Second in terms of spending is the contest in Missouri between incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Josh Hawley. In total, some $108 million has been spent for that senate seat, the race for which is another nail-biter. Real Clear Politics currently gives Hawley a razor-thin 0.8% edge.
The third most expensive senatorial race, costing about $100 million, is the contest in Texas between incumbent Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke. RCP gives Cruz a comfortable 6.5% advantage over O’Rourke, with recent polls giving Cruz as much as a 10-point lead.
The most expensive House race is for California’s 25th district (north and east of L.A.) between incumbent Republican Stephen Knight and Democrat challenger Katie Hill. The most recent poll, a NYT/Siena poll, gives Knight a 4-point lead. A poll from late September gave Hill a 4-point advantage. A total of $26 million has been sunk into that race since January 2017.
The ten most costly House races total some $238, Reuters notes, with Democrats and their supporters far outspending Republicans $142 to $96 million, respectively.
Real Clear Politics and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight both give Republicans a strong advantage in maintaining control of the Senate and Democrats equally as strong odds of taking over the House.