WASHINGTON — Independent Republican groups are heavily outspending their cross-party counterparts on television advertising in the campaigns for the White House and control of the Senate, eating into President Barack Obama's financial advantage over Mitt Romney and prompting expressions of alarm from top congressional Democrats.
The disparity is most evident in the race for the White House, where Crossroads GPS, Restore Our Future and other organizations aligned with the Republicans spent nearly $37 million on TV ads through the first few days of June, most of it attacking Obama. That compares with about $11 million by groups supporting the president, with much of it from Priorities USA Action.
Senate campaigns also have been affected, notably in Ohio, where Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown's commanding lead in the polls began to erode this spring after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others started a televised attack. Overall, Republican-aligned organizations have spent roughly $30 million on ads in key races, compared with about $11 million for groups supporting Democrats.
Underscoring the concern, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who heads Democrats' efforts to regain House control, issued a thinly veiled call for his party's donors to step up. The recent recall election in Wisconsin "should serve as a wake-up call," he wrote.
David Axelrod, a top strategist for the president, is expected to meet with potential donors to Priorities USA Action, the group formed to boost Obama's re-election, in New York on Monday, according to officials familiar with his plans. Separately, former President Bill Clinton has agreed to help, although it isn't clear whether he will appear at a formal fundraising event.