The one race in the country that may not get overrun by outside advertising this year is in Massachusetts, where Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren have signed a “no outside ad” pledge in their Senate race.
There’s no way that this will lead to a reduction in political spending on the race, however. In fact, it promises to be the most expensive Senate campaign in US history. This can be seen by the first-quarter fundraising numbers in the race. Brown struck first when he announced a haul of $3.4 million for Q1. But Warren today doubled that number, raising an astronomical $6.9 million over the same period. Here’s the statement from Warren’s campaign:
Elizabeth Warren’s US Senate campaign today announced that it raised $6.9 million in first quarter 2012 fundraising, more than double the amount raised by incumbent, Republican Senator Scott Brown.
This impressive fundraising effort was fueled by a surge in small, grassroots donations. Between January and March, 83 percent of donations received were $50 or less. Elizabeth Warren outraised Scott Brown in Massachusetts this past quarter, and more than 30,000 people from 350 cities and towns across the Commonwealth have now contributed to the Elizabeth for Massachusetts campaign.
“The incredible enthusiasm we have seen from people across the Commonwealth who are contributing to this campaign shows the strong grassroots momentum behind Elizabeth’s fight for middle class families,” said campaign manager Mindy Myers. “Scott Brown still has $4 million more in the bank than we do, but this is the kind of support we need to be able to take on the big banks and corporations that are lining up against Elizabeth.”
As you can see, the cash on hand numbers show that Brown, who had about $10 million in the bank by the time Warren announced for Senate, still holds an advantage there. He had $15 million in the bank at the end of the first quarter, so this suggests that Warren has $11 million. But if anything, that shows just how much money will be spent on 1 of 100 seats in the US Senate.
The previous record for spending on a Senate campaign was in 2000, when Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio spent $70 million for a Senate seat in New York. Warren and Brown have already raised $35 million and we’re seven months out from the election.
While Warren’s fundraising prowess largely comes from the kind of small-dollar donations that fueled past juggernauts like Howard Dean and Barack Obama, there’s something unsettling about so much money being employed just for one Senate seat. It’s going to take more than mere disclosure to fix the broken system of campaign finance in America, which has been debilitating to good governance for many years.