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8 third quarter fundraising reports that matter

There are less than three weeks left in the 2012 election, and we just got our final dose of quarterly fundraising numbers from House and Senate campaigns.

With the battle for both chambers pretty well defined at this point and much of the money already spent, it's not worth going through every minute detail of the data.

Instead, we're going to highlight just a few reports that we think matter -- and could come to define some key races.

Enjoy!

* Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts Senate candidate's $12.1 million raised in the third quarter isn't quite a record, but it's still astounding. Warren has now raised more for her campaign in 13 months than Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has in the three years since his special election win, and that matters much more in a race where outside groups are prohibited from running ads.

* Tom Smith: Don't know who that is? You might soon. The wealthy coal magnate and Pennsylvania Senate hopeful loaned his campaign $10 million and also outraised Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) $1.6 million to $1.5 million. Smith has emerged as the Republican Party's upset special, running a surprisingly strong campaign (he's down just 3 points in a Quinnipiac poll today) and giving himself a real shot against a man with a famous political name. And because outside groups didn't get involved early on in this lower-tier race, Smith's late financial advantage could matter more.

* Tammy Baldwin: Baldwin's (D) continued strong fundraising ($4.5 million) -- combined with former governor Tommy Thompson's costly and late GOP primary -- has allowed Democrats to achieve a pretty even playing field here. Baldwin's big financial advantage over Thompson has mitigated the effect of GOP outside groups.

* Todd Akin: We still don't know how much he raised after his "legitimate rape" comment, because his campaign hasn't announced it. Translation: It's probably not a good number. (The campaign has said it raised $1 million after GOP outside groups pulled out, but we don't have a number for the entire quarter.) This matters because Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) raised a stunning $5.8 million in the third quarter, and also because Akin doesn't have help from the two biggest GOP outside groups -- the National Republican Senatorial Committee and American Crossroads. It's tough to win without ads, and Akin doesn't have a robust air presence right now.

* David Rivera/Laura Richardson/John Tierney: It's not easy being embattled. All three of these members face ethical issues, and all three have suffered financially for it. Richardson (D-Calif.) has apparently given up in her member-versus-member race against Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), raising just $7,000 in the third quarter. Rivera (R-Fla.) pulled in a very meager $122,000 and is being left for dead by some in his party. And Tierney (D-Mass.), despite raising half a million dollars, reportedly had to cancel his buy in the Boston market. Not good.

 * Allen West: The Florida congressman appears to have set the record for fundraising by a vulnerable member of the House. His nearly $5 million raised in the third quarter gives him $14.9 million raised for the cycle -- besting Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) $13.5 million from last cycle. 

* Mia Love: It's good to be popular. Love's Republican National Convention speech was apparently a windfall for her campaign, which pulled in just more than $1 million for the quarter and outraised Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) more than two-to-one. That's huge money -- especially in Utah.

* Charlie Bass/Frank Guinta: Both New Hampshire GOP freshmen were outraised by more than $300,000 in the third quarter. Bass will be outspent by Ann McLane Kuster (D) in a race that might be tilting toward Kuster, while Guinta finds himself in an increasingly tough spot against former congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D). And the fact that Shea-Porter, who was once a meager fundraiser, raised $675,000 for the quarter suggests she's a much improved candidate.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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