According to OpenSecrets.org, independent expenditure groups spent more than the candidates in the Pennsylvania Senate race, and the PA-8.
The Senate race had the largest disparity in the entire country between candidate and outside group spending, outside groups spent $66,656,170 more than the candidates. The campaigns for Senate spent a total of $52,783,592, a tiny sum compared to the $119,439,762 spent by outside groups.
The PA-8th race had the eighth largest difference between the candidates and outside groups, outside groups spent $9,371,570 more than the candidates did.
In each race the Republican won the race, Senator Pat Toomey and now Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.
According to OpenSecrets there has been a downward trend in the number of races where outside groups spent more than the candidates. In 2012 there were 32 instances and in 2014 there were 28, compared to the 27 in 2016. This does not mean less money is going into the races. The disparity has grown from less than $100 million difference across all the races in 2012 to $316,428,340 difference in 2016.
“Many super PACs have turned toward assuming traditional campaign roles, such as field work, get-out-the-vote activity, and opposition research, rather than solely focusing on expensive TV ads,” Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen told OpenSecrets.
As these groups pour money into these races, it is changing the way the campaigns organize themselves, especially for statewide races.
“The fundamental organizing principle of almost every non-presidential campaign is scarcity of resources – something that is less of a factor in presidential campaigns. In the past couple cycles, there has been so much more money poured into these US Senate campaigns that they are becoming, in effect, mini-presidential races,” J.J. Balaban, Democratic strategist who has worked for statewide campaigns including Joe Sestak, said.
“That gives well-resourced Senate campaigns the flexibility to employ presidential-level tactics, and a smart Senate campaign will use that advantage to do things differently.”