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Awash in spending: 2014 U.S. Senate election races

November 4, 2014

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Voters across the country go to the polls on Tuesday to vote in mid-term election races that will decide the future makeup of the U.S. House and Senate. 2014 is likely to set a record for mid-term election spending, with as much as $4 billion in outlays, as we wrote earlier this fall.

The spending is particularly fierce in the nation’s contested races for U.S. Senate. If Republicans can pick up enough seats, they will control the Senate as well as the U.S. House. That help explains why so much money is pouring into those races.

Here are the U.S. Senate races where the most money has been spent, according to OpenSecrets. (You might see higher numbers for these campaign, but that’s in money raised: this is how much was spent as of Federal Election Commission reports on Nov. 3.)

1.Kentucky Senate$44,838,119
2.Georgia Senate$39,579,101
3.Minnesota Senate$35,813,311
4.North Carolina Senate$32,390,468
5.Colorado Senate$27,887,734
6.Louisiana Senate$25,696,097
7.Iowa Senate$23,452,451
8.Massachusetts* Senate$22,748,226
9.Arkansas Senate$19,944,090
10.New Hampshire Senate$19,925,644

* special election after John Kerry was named secretary of state.

NPR reported on Monday about the Kentucky U.S. Senate race. Long-time Sen. Mitch McConnell is in line to become Senate Majority Leader, if he wins and the Republicans win. But, NPR also raised an important point: what happens if the control of the Senate isn’t decided in the election?

As NPR said, “there are plausible scenarios that could have America waiting well beyond Nov. 4 to know which party will have a Senate majority.”

Alaska, for one, “could take a week or more to get their votes in,” said Justin Barasky, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Even with Alaska settled, there’s still the matter of Louisiana and Georgia. Both states require a runoff election if no candidate wins a majority on Election Day, and polling suggests runoffs are more likely in those states than not. Louisiana’s runoff would be Dec. 6, but Georgia’s runoff isn’t until Jan. 6. That would be three days beyond the start of the new Congress on Jan. 3, NPR reported.

One more thing to consider: the possibility of a tie, assuming independents vote with one or the other of the parties. If 50 Democratic senators and independents tie with 50 Republican senators and independents, that means Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, will be in the position of casting deciding votes. That would leave the Democrats in charge.

So, all this election spending could still result in a cliffhanger. Be prepared for a wait.

STORY IDEAS

All the data you could wish for at OpenSecrets.

NPR’s election night coverage will be streamed on its website, app and on local stations.

Lots of info about lots of races at Politico.

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