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Defeated House Democrats outspent GOP in campaigns

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President Barack Obama says it feels bad to see his Democratic allies lose their House seat in droves, and makes him question what he could have done differently. (Nov. 3)

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"We're thankful for the contributions of everyone who helped us," said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Once we expanded the playing field and forced Democrats to play defense in 90 seats, many of the outside groups were able to see that and take advantage of it."

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While both parties spent similar amounts on the races, Republicans went on the air with television ads much earlier in the fall, attempting to define Democratic candidates and move races early, according to campaign finance reports and party strategists. Democrats saved money for the end of the campaign, spending $40 million nationwide in the final two weeks.

In the Senate, Republicans had much more money than Democrats for the seats they captured in Pennsylvania and Illinois left open by retiring lawmakers. In Pennsylvania, Rep. Joe Sestak (D) raised $7 million, about half as much as former representative Pat Toomey (R). Toomey also benefited from $9.3 million in outside spending, compared to only $2.8 million on behalf of Sestak.

In Wisconsin, Sen. Russell Feingold (D) was outraised by businessman Ron Johnson (R), who invested $8.2 million of his own money in the race. Feingold lost, pulling in 47 percent of the vote to Johnson's 52 percent.

The most expensive congressional race was for the Senate seat in Connecticut, where businesswoman Linda McMahon (R) invested $46.6 million in her campaign. She lost to Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) on Tuesday night after receiving 44 percent of the vote.

The Post analysis looked at fundraising by general election candidates through October 13 and independent spending reported by the parties and interest groups through Election Day. It did not include money raised by candidates in the final weeks before the election, or transfers from the parties to states for turnout operations. A full accounting won't be possible for another month, when new disclosure filings are due.

Not all of the losing Democrats outgunned their GOP challengers, of course. In New Hampshire, Democrat Carol Shea-Porter fell to GOP candidate Frank Guinta, who had $1.7 million more than the incumbent, along with help from his allies, including more than $800,000 in spending by outside conservative groups.

In the race to replace Democratic Rep. Charlie Melancon in Louisiana, Republican Jeff Landry and his supporters had $2.7 million more than his Democratic opponent. Other defeated Democrats who faced war-chest deficits of $1 million or more included Reps. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.) and Glenn Nye (Va.).

farnamt@washpost.com eggend@washpost.com


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