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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

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

3 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

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