As expected, the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan is on pace to become the most expensive political campaign in New Hampshire history. With more than three months to go before Election Day, the contest is already awash in cash: Total spending stands at $34 million.
Outside groups account for nearly $25 million of that, or three of every four dollars spent so far. A pro-Ayotte Super PAC, One Nation, has dropped more than $7.4 million on TV and digital advertising, while the Senate Majority PAC has spent $5.1 million on ads to bolster Hassan.
Meanwhile, the campaigns themselves have spent roughly $9.3 million. At the end of June, Ayotte had more than $7 million in the bank. That's compared to about $4.3 million for Hassan, who has kept pace with Ayotte’s fundraising since entering the race in October.
One of a handful of races that could decide which party controls the Senate, the Ayotte-Hassan contest should easily top the $54 million spent in 2014, when Sen. Jeanne Shaheen beat Scott Brown.
On the other hand, when it comes to money, Ayotte-Hassan has little in common to Ayotte's first race, against Democrat Paul Hodes in 2010. Less than $15 million was spent on that Senate race, which was held just after the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC dismantled regulations that limited the role of independent political groups.