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Campaign finance roundup: Bachmann, Clark continue record-obliterating fundraising pace

WASHINGTON — Incumbents increased their fundraising lead in every House district in Minnesota, but the biggest story continues to be in the 6th District, where Michele Bachmann and Tarryl Clark have raised enough money to fund every other campaign s

WASHINGTON – Incumbents increased their fundraising lead in every House district in Minnesota, but the biggest story continues to be in the 6th District. Consider this: With the money they’ve raised so far, Michele Bachmann and Tarryl Clark could have financed every other congressional campaign in Minnesota and still had enough cash left over to have a moderately priced contest.

As is, the two continued to rewrite election fundraising history this past quarter, as the exurban 6th District looks likely to wind up the single-most expensive House race in America. And it may not be close.

Bachmann raised $5.4 million in the 3rd quarter — more money than any Minnesota House candidate has ever raised for an entire campaign cycle — and entered the last month with $3.4 million cash-on-hand. Sure, her campaign has invested heavily in staff, television, micro-targeted internet and direct mail ads, yet one wonders if Team Bachmann will actually be able to spend all that money from now until the election.

Clark, meanwhile, raised a challenger-record $1.82 million, bringing her total to $3.9 million. Clark’s $868,000 remaining, while well below Bachmann’s totals, will still be more than enough to keep her campaign in a heavy television ad rotation from now until Election Day.

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Meanwhile, Rep. Tim Walz entered the final month of the campaign with a slight lead in the polls but a large money lead over GOP challenger Randy Demmer.

Walz raised $353,500 in the third quarter, while Demmer  took in $183,000. Walz has $814,000 cash-on-hand, while Demmer has $232,000 left.

A KAAL TV/Survey USA poll had Walz leading Demmer 47-42, with other candidates in the low single digits and five percent undecided. While the top-line numbers say Walz by five, Survey USA qualifies its result to say he may be leading by anywhere from five to 10 points, depending on how one defines likely voters.

 14% of the likely voters SurveyUSA includes here do not regularly vote in Congressional elections, but tell us they are  uniquely motivated to vote in 2010. Not surprisingly, these uniquely motivated voters, in 2010, are voting Republican. Many pollsters treat these voters as “posers” (assuming they will “talk the talk” to a pollster but not “walk the walk” on election day). Many pollsters exclude these uniquely motivated voters from their likely voter pool. That, in 2010, has the effect of making any poll more favorable to the Democrat. If SurveyUSA excluded uniquely motivated voters from this poll, the Democrat’s lead doubles, from the 5 points we report here, to 10 points.

Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota

Elsewhere in the state, incumbents increased their large leads over their challengers. Those third quarter totals, sorted by district with incumbents listed on top:

2nd District: John Kline raised $259,000 to bring his total to $1,368,000 for the cycle with $568,000 remaining. He easily outdistanced Shelley Madore, who raised $25,381 and has $14,000 remaining.

3rd District:  Erik Paulsen had a solid quarter with $433,000, while challenger Jim Meffert had by far his best quarter with $199,000. The big difference here is in cash — Paulsen has more than $1 million in the bank while Meffert has just $126,000.

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4th District: Betty McCollum had a small quarter with just $136,000 raised and has just $188,000 cash-on-hand. However, her St. Paul-based district is arguably the safest in the state, and challenger Teresa Collett’s $78,000 won’t be enough to move the needle.

5th District: Keith Ellison raised $233,000 and has $252,000 in the bank. His challenger, Joel Demos, raised $44,000. Most of Demos’ money has gone to get an ad televised during “Monday Night Football,” the Gophers-Badgers game and on cable from here on out, and he has just $21,000 remaining.

7th District: Republicans hope to pick off Collin Peterson here, but the Agriculture Chairman has a massive cash advantage going into the closing weeks. Peterson has $814,000 remaining to Lee Byberg’s $37,000. They raised $218,000 and $151,000, respectively.

8th District: Outside of the 1st, Republicans think their best shot comes in the traditionally-Democratic 8th. Money goes a long way here, so Chip Cravaack’s $132,000 raised (and the same amount remaining) is worth more here than it might be otherwise. However, Rep. Jim Oberstar raised almost twice as much ($232,000) and a very good cycle leaves Oberstar with more than four times as much cash as Cravaack.