Outside groups have poured roughly $95.5 million through Aug. 30 into five Senate races aimed at the general election, proving that donors are deeply invested in the fight over which party controls Congress in 2017.
The groups are spending big in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin. All of the races except Nevada are places where where Republican incumbents are battling well-known, popular Democrats in states that have historically tipped blue in presidential elections. Republicans hold a slim 54-48 seat majority in the Senate and the races represent some of the toughest battlegrounds in this election.
The nearly $100 million price tag is according to groups who report any ad buys or other activities such as direct mail explicitly supporting or opposing the election of a candidate. Non-profits like the ones associated with the Koch network which run issue based ads are not required to disclose with the FEC. Such non-profits do not need to disclose their donors and are rising in influence in the 2016 elections.
A new analysis released Wednesday by the Brennan Center estimated that “shadow party” groups with close ties to Senate leaders have spent $47 million so far this cycle on Senate elections. These groups also are not required to reveal their donors.