Oct. 12

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New Senate: DEM 47     Ties 2     GOP 51

New polls:  
Dem pickups: (None)

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NRSC Moves Its Money to Six Senate Races

Money talks and in politics it practically screams. The NRSC is doing its talking by shifting its resources to the six states that it thinks will determine control of the Senate. These are Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Dakota. In Alaska, Colorado, and New Hampshire, the Republicans are trying to unseat incumbent Democrats; the others are open seats. All but Georgia are currently held by Democrats.

All but New Hampshire are very close races. While there have been a few polls in New Hampshire showing a close race between Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown (R), most polls give Shaheen a solid lead.

Missing from this list is Kansas, where incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is trailing independent Greg Orman. This omission is especially surprising since the chairman of the NRSC is Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), the junior senator from Kansas. Also missing is North Carolina, where Moran has probably given up on Thom Tillis (R) and conceded the race to Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC). Finally, Moran is apparently convinced that Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has enough money of his own that he can fend off Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) without the NRSC's help.

Secret Money Dominates Campaigns

More than half the outside money spent in the general election campaigns this year has come from secret donors. The vast majority of the money has come from wealthy individuals and corporations who often use nonprofit groups and trade associations set up for the purpose of hiding the donors' true identity. In this election cycle, 55% of broadcast advertising has been paid for by groups that do not disclose the identity of their donors and 45% has been funded by super PACs, which have to file regular reports of their donors.

When the Supreme Court made the Citizens United decision, which opened the floodgates to the torrent of money now flowing into campaigns, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the landmark decision, assumed that having unlimited money in campaigns would be fine since the sources would be known. That assumption has been proven to be largely incorrect.

Not All Large Donors Are Secret

While there is a lot of secret money in campaigns, not all of it is secret. At least a dozen people have personally donated at least $35 million to one or more campaigns. Bob Perry (R), Tom Steyer (D), Stephen Bing (D), and Sheldon Adelson (R) are among the top donors, each having given more than $70 million to candidates in the past dozen years.

Candidates Call in the Big Guns in Iowa

The Iowa Senate race is close and is likely to remain so up to election day so the candidates, Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and state senator Joni Ernst (R) are doing everything they can to rev up their respective bases. Ernst called in 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Braley called in Michelle Obama, who may not have helped that much when she mispronounced the candidate's name as "Bailey" half a dozen times. There is little evidence that partisan endorsements sway independents much, but a base voter who goes to a rally to hear a star might be more likely to vote afterwards.

At the start of the race, Braley, A sitting congressman, had the edge over an unknown state senator, but he has made a few mistakes, including saying that the state's other senator, Chuck Grassley (R), was farmer ill-suited to take charge of the Senate judiciary committee should the Republicans capture the Senate. Since then, he has been attacking Ernst as an enemy of women's rights due to her support of defining a zygote as a full-fledged person, with all the rights that people have. As a consequence, a pregnant woman traveling internationally would need a passport for her zygote to avoid being guilty of human trafficking.

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