Big players dominate the outside spending game. Crossroads (R) might be the single group most synonymous with outside spending, while Americans for Prosperity (R) is out-advertising just about everyone else combined right now. But the flow of money is also diffusing into smaller groups that just focus on one race or candidate, and there’s a bunch worth tracking this year.
— There are four top Senate races where at least one candidate has a personal super PAC. There are three in Alaska, two in North Carolina (one just formed to help Sen. Kay Hagan (D) withstand a deluge of outside money there), one in Louisiana, and a big pro-McConnell group in Kentucky. Kentuckians for Strong Leadership has already spent $1.1 million hammering Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) and expects to be the main source of GOP outside money in the Bluegrass State.
— A few have already popped up in the House, too. One challenger to cocaine-busted Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) already has a million-dollar super PAC backing him up, and former GOP Rep. Richard Pombo is heading up a California Central Valley-focused group backing Reps. Jeff Denham (R) and David Valadao (R).
— With hundreds of thousands available instantly with one stroke of a pen, we can expect many more of these groups to form in the upcoming months. Especially in primaries and at the House level, where a dollar (or, say, a few hundred thousand) goes a longer way, the trend will continue to have important consequences.
The big players will remain important, but local efforts are set to play larger roles across the country in 2014.
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Hillary Clinton hopes that television ratings for the candidates' acceptance speeches at their respective conventions aren't foreshadowing of similar results at the polls in November. Preliminary results from the networks and cable channels show that 34.9 million people tuned in for Donald Trump's acceptance speech while 33.3 million watched Clinton accept the Democratic nomination. However, it is still possible that the numbers are closer than these ratings suggest: the numbers don't include ratings from PBS or CSPAN, which tend to attract more Democratic viewers.