PoliticalMoneyLine now has a report on spending up which covers party, PAC and 527 spending for the month of September by race. The numbers do not include spending by the candidate's election committees so the totals reflect party (and surrogate) effort in each race. The total spent in September by both parties and surrogates was $19.5M with $12.6 spent by the Republicans and $6.9M spent by the Democrats. The money spent is a drop in the bucket compared with the approximately $500M that will have been spent between September 1st and November 7th but it does give some idea as to the races that will be real dog fights.
The chart below lists the top 25 races (representing 89% of the total spent) in descending order:
Pink represents a Republican open seat with red and blue indicating incumbents party affiliation. Both parties are being very circumspect regarding their spending on districts not on the list. LA-03 and TX-17 are definitely in play and the Republicans will not give up TX-22 without a fight. GA-08 and GA-12 will also be getting a lot more attention from the Republicans during October.
The chart below comes from Coldheartedtruth where Indy Voter does as nice a job on unprejudiced poll dissection as anyone I've read. He updates the chart regularly and I'm hopeful that we'll be seeing some of those 'Lean Dem' races start moving into the 'No Clear Leader' column on their way to the 'Lean Republican' column.
One way to look at this is that three states - Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio hold the key to the Republicans retaining control in both the House and the Senate. That's why they are pouring money ($3.7M in September) into the Ohio Senate race - if they hold either DeWine or Santorum's seat then they retain control. If they can hold six of the nine top 25 races from those states they will hold the House.
We've already seen a little fruit from opposition research with the Menendez problem exposed and today's exposure of the Florida congressman. I'm betting that the next two weeks will see quite a bit more of the same. Nothing like a nice six week mud fight to try and force down turnout.
That's why ignoring the 'issues' saves time. They don't mean much in most elections and this one is going to go in the 'most' category except for the amount of mud slung.