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Data: Advertising Analytics; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Democrats are trouncing Republicans on the airwaves in the battle for the Senate, outspending them in nine of the top 10 competitive Senate races.

Why it matters: Even before President Trump's COVID diagnosis, Republicans were growing increasingly concerned that Democrats' money advantage could flip control of the Senate.

  • While some outside super PAC money for the GOP is starting to even it up, Republican candidates have been outspent for the year, according to data provided to Axios by Advertising Analytics.
  • Democrats need to pick up four seats to win the majority — or effectively three if Joe Biden wins the presidency, because his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, would break a 50-50 tie as vice president.

The big picture: Traditionally, incumbent senators have a fundraising edge, but it's different this cycle thanks to unlimited contributions from Democratic super PACs as well as highly-motivated small donors.

  • Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court helped feed that bump.
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Data: Advertising Analytics; Chart: Axios Visuals

By the numbers: In North Carolina, the most expensive Senate race this year, Democratic groups have outspent Republicans $116 million to $78 million.

  • Democrat Cal Cunningham was leading incumbent Thom Tillis by 6 percentage points in the average of polls tracked by Real Clear Politics — though that data was compiled before reports of texts between Cunningham and a woman who's not his wife.
  • In Iowa, incumbent Joni Ernst has been collectively outspent by groups supporting Democrat Theresa Greenfield, $87 million to $66 million, with polls giving the challenger a slight lead.

What they’re saying: “I’m getting overwhelmed,” South Carolina Republican and incumbent Senator Lindsey Graham said on Fox News last week. “LindseyGraham.com. Help me. They’re killing me, money-wise. Help me. You helped me last week — help me again. LindseyGraham.com.”

  • Tillis charged in a debate: “Within 48 hours of Justice Ginsburg’s death Cal Cunningham had $6 million channeled to his campaign from some of the most radical left organizations who expect him to use the rubber stamp to confirm activist judges."
  • Republicans acknowledge their fundraising deficit, but are criticizing Democrats for relying on super PACs like the Senate Majority PAC, which has spent some $127 million on TV ads this year, according to Advertising Analytics.
  • “All cycle Democrats have relied on dark money and special interest groups to attack Republican senators while candidates disingenuously bemoan their existence,” said Jesse Hunt, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Go deeper

Senate Judiciary advances Amy Coney Barrett nomination

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday advanced the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court despite a boycott by Democratic senators.

The big picture: The 12 Republicans on the panel voted in favor of advancing the nomination while the committee's 10 Democrats submitted no votes. Democrats instead placed enlarged photos of Affordable Care Act beneficiaries in their seats, drawing attention to the upcoming Supreme Court case on the legislation. A full Senate vote on Barrett's nomination is set for Oct. 26.

Updated Oct 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden has huge cash advantage over Trump as Election Day nears

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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had $177.3 million in the bank at the end of September, per the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

Why it matters: President Trump's re-election campaign reported having $63.1 million in the bank at the end of last month, as campaigning enters the final stretch ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3.

Updated Oct 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump campaign reports shrinking cash haul to FEC

President Trump during a campaign rally at the Erie International Airport on Wednesday in Erie, Pa. Photo: Noah Riffe/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump's re-election campaign had $63.1 million in the bank by the end of September after spending some $139 million that month, filings to the Federal Election Commission Tuesday night show.

Why it matters: The Trump campaign reported having $121 million in cash and $900,000 in debts the previous month. Trump's campaign and the shared Republican committees had just over $251 million at the start of October.