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Expand chart
Data: Federal Election Commission via OpenSecrets.org, Cook Political Report; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

The tightest midterms races have attracted the most money, according to an Axios analysis of campaign finance filings.

The big picture: As the chart above shows, closer races have attracted the most donor money this election cycle. That's not too surprising, but even non-competitive races attracted a lot of money. In races where the outcome was assured, incumbent favorites crushed their opponents in fundraising.

By the time it's over, the 2018 midterms will have smashed the previous midterm spending record, with candidates spending a combined $5.2 billion, according to a projection by the Center for Responsive Politics. The previous record for midterm spending was about $4.2 billion in 2010, adjusted for inflation.

By the numbers: Texas Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke, who's trying to unseat Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in one of the most closely watched races in the country, raised more money than any other midterm congressional candidate.

  • O'Rourke raked in $69 million as of his Oct. 17 report to the Federal Election Commission.
  • Though Cruz's fundraising trailed, he still ranked third in fundraising among all congressional candidates, hauling in $40 million.

The Cruz-O'Rourke contest exemplifies the trend, but they were not alone: six of the top 10 fundraisers were in races rated a "toss-up" by Cook Political Report.

  • Florida Senate contenders Rick Scott and Bill Nelson were the second and eighth most successful fundraisers.
  • Claire McCaskill and Bob Hugin, competing in toss-up races in Missouri and New Jersey, also made the top 10.

Yet candidates didn't need to be in close races to raise millions.

  • Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren took in more than $34 million as of Oct. 17, even though Cook Political Report rates her seat as Solid D and her two opponents combined raised under $8 million.
  • On the Republican side, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, virtually a sure bet to re-win his House seat, raised $9.5 million while his top opponent raised just over $200,000.

Go deeper

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

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