Money not critical in some Senate races this year
This is good news for the GOP because in most races Democrats are going to have more money to spend according to recent surveys. The money situation may change as the election gets closer and the Republican candidate looks like a winner, there will be some money from folks who want to get a ride on the caboose at least.
The power of ready cash in politics is proving a mixed bag in a collection of tight races that many expect could decide control of the Senate this fall.
In just four of the eight races that analysts consider critical to control of the Senate in November, the candidate winning the money race is also clearly ahead in the early polls. The candidate with the country's biggest bankroll - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat - is trailing a slew of Republican challengers seeking his job.
"Incumbents try to build a big war chest as a disincentive for people to challenge, so Mr. Reid can indeed run the Cadillac of campaigns," said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor for the Cook Political Report. "But the real issue is whether challengers can meet the basic threshold of money required to run a competitive race."
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, had a similar analysis.
"What's more important is the challengers spending just enough to get out their message," he said.
Mr. Reid leads all candidates with $11.3 million in campaign funds. However, the four-term incumbent trails in polls with the top Republican challengers - former state Sen. Sue Lowden, who has $2.2 million, and businessman Danny Tarkanian, who has collected $1.1 million to date, according to the most recent Federal Election Commission reports.
With Mr. Reid's money and clout as Senate majority leader, he should easily win the June 8 primary. But anti-incumbent sentiment - along with Nevada's troubled tourism industry, high unemployment and record foreclosure rate - have helped put Mr. Reid behind Ms. Lowden by 11 points and Mr. Tarkanian by 9.2 points, in a poll average by Real Clear Politics.
Mr. Sabato was not optimistic about Mr. Reid, who has $9.4 million cash on hand, spending his way to victory in November.
New Hampshire, where Republican incumbent Sen. Judd Gregg is retiring, is another state in which the candidate with the deepest pockets isn't topping the polls.
Republican William Binnie, a businessman and political newcomer, has $3.7 million in campaign money and a five-point lead over the likely Democratic candidate, Rep. Paul. W. Hodes, who has raised $3 million. But Mr. Binnie still has to win the Republican nomination, and right now, former state Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte holds a 24-point lead over him and other candidates in the Sept. 14 party primary, according to the poll average.
Mr. Binnie did not register on a Rasmussen Reports poll taken in late April.
In Colorado, the leading fundraising candidate is ahead of one challenger from the opposite party but trails the other.
Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat appointed when President Obama named Ken Salazar as interior secretary, has $6.2 million in campaign funds but trails former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, a Republican who has raised just one-third of that amount, by 1.4 percentage points.