The Sunlight Foundation is keeping close tabs on independent expenditures this election, and those figures offer a good sense of where outside groups are placing their attention—and money—in the final hours before Americans head to the polls.
In the final push, the tight Nevada Senate race, which pits Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid against Republican Sharron Angle, is one outside spending hot spot. Conservative group Let Freedom Ring spent $36,500 today on a television ad targeting Reid, who according to the latest poll is down by three points. That brings the group's total spending on the Reid-Angle match up to more than $157,000. Reid has been the target of a lot of outside spending this year, with outside groups spending $7.2 million to unseat Reid, while just $1.2 million spent has by outside groups in support of the embattled Majority Leader. Outside groups have spent another $2.4 million on efforts in support of Angle, while $4.4 million has been spent on ads against her.
Another big target is Patty Murray in Washington, another senior Democrat in a tough race this year. Groups have spent $8 million opposing Murray. Another $6.7 million has been spent on ads against her opponent, Republican Dino Rossi. The most recent polls show Rossi ahead by one point.
Outside spending has smashed records for midterms, with $443 million spent on races this year. Democrats and Republicans have both benefited from the splurge, though Republican candidates have drawn slightly more backing. While $194.8 million has been spent on ads either supporting Republicans or bashing their Democratic opponents, $176.1 million has been spent on Democratic ads.
The Republican Party of Michigan has emerged as the biggest spender in the past five days, at $1.26 million. It's putting it's money behind former Rep. Tim Walberg, who is running against Rep. Mark Schauer, the Democrat who defeated him in 2008; also benefitting from the spending spree is Rocky Raczkowski, who's taking on Democratic incumbent Rep. Gary Peters.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is also pouring money into close races at the last minute, spending $1.17 million in just the past five days.