A drop in direct-mail receipts has hurt fund-raising at five of the six national committees run by the Republican and Democratic parties. But the GOP is still outspending Democrats at a 4 to 1 rate, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The three Republican committees, which rely heavily on direct-mail solicitations, show a $30 million drop in revenues from the last off-year election cycle. The GOP committees raised and spent about $159 million through Oct. 17, while the Democrats raised $37 million and spent $40 million.

In addition to their national committees, both parties have committees designated to elect members to the House and to the Senate.

Both national committees experienced a drop in receipts. Republican National Committee (RNC) revenues fell from $75.6 million in 1986 to $60.8 million now. Mary Matalin, the RNC's chief of staff, said a key reason is that "mail has lost its punch as a vehicle." Their mail receipts have dropped from 71 percent to 55 percent of the total, she said. Lists have been overused, and the GOP has lost some Ronald Reagan partisans as donors because Reagan's signature is no longer on RNC mail, she said. The committee budgeted for the decrease, however, and has enough cash to meet its operational goals, Matalin added.

The RNC has seen an increase in its large corporate and individual donations, so called "soft money." It went from $7.4 million in 1986 to more than $15 million now.

Democratic National Committee (DNC) fund-raising fell from $15.2 million to $13.1 million, according to the FEC. But DNC spokeswoman Ginny Terzano noted that if the committee's soft-money donations are added, the DNC's total is about the same as four years ago. The party raised $3.8 million in soft money in 1985-86 and $5.5 million so far this cycle.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) shows the only increase in receipts, from $11.5 million to $16.2 million. Wendy Burnley, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, attributed half of the $10 million drop in her group's $28.5 million receipts to the fact that her party lost control of the Senate in the 1986 election. "Raising money is much easier when you're the leadership party," she said.

Both House campaign committees have more than $1.5 million more in debts than cash in the bank. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) saw receipts dip from $35.5 million to $28.5 million, while Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) revenues fell from $11 million to $8.2 million.

The FEC figures show the DCCC has raised more money this election cycle from political action committees (PACs) than from individuals, $3.7 million to $3.3 million. Howard Schloss, spokesman for the committee, said direct-mail receipts "dropped significantly" last year after ethical problems led to the resignations of House speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.) and majority whip Tony Coelho (D-Calif.). He noted that despite raising $20 million less than its GOP counterpart, the DCCC has contributed more to its candidates.

Edward J. Rollins, co-chairman of the NRCC, said "mail has been terrible the last couple months." He attributed this "partly to an anti-incumbent mood and partly to the president's change of position on taxes. It's been about as tough raising money as it's ever been."