Outside spending has detonated in the Missouri Senate race, reaching what appears to be a record in independent expenditures.
Federal Election Commission figures Friday showed outside groups have spent $23.4 million trying to influence voters in the Roy Blunt-Jason Kander contest. That’s far more than the $13.7 million spent in 2012, when Sen. Claire McCaskill defeated Rep. Todd Akin, and in 2010, when groups spent $10.4 million in Blunt’s first contest against Robin Carnahan.
In short: Outside spending in the 2016 race will soon exceed outside spending in 2010 and 2012 combined.
And the figure will grow. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just announced a “seven figure” investment in the race, on Blunt’s behalf.
The combined outside spending dwarfs the candidates’ own spending.
Who are the groups? A partial list:
For Blunt or against Kander: Americans for Prosperity, Missouri Farm Bureau, National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Association of Realtors, National Rifle Association, Heartland Resurgence, One Nation, Senate Leadership Fund, Women Speak Out, and the U.S. Chamber, whose spending has not been filed with the FEC.
For Kander, or against Blunt: AFSCME, Communication Workers of America, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, End Citizens United, Majority Forward, VoteVets, Working America.
Almost all of the money will go into last-minute television advertising, although voter outreach, mailers, and other tools will be used.
Despite the explosion, the Missouri race remains cheaper than several other states. Outside spending in Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Nevada, Florida, and Indiana all exceed the spending in Missouri. That could change as the race tightens in the state.
The spending will almost certainly set a record. Combined with spending by the individual candidates, the cost of the Missouri Senate race may easily exceed $50 million. In 2012, combined spending was $48.7 million at the end of the race.