Good and bad fundraising news for Republicans

April 15 wasn’t only the deadline for Americans to file their income tax returns, it was also the last day for federal candidates to send in their campaign contribution disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.

This deadline comes and goes without much attention paid by the public. But for those of us who work in politics, we tend channel our inner nerd and spend more time than we’d like to admit digging through the day.

Though it’s important to remember that money doesn’t necessarily translate into electoral success, Republicans, who are looking to take control of the Senate this fall, have to be happy that top-tier candidates outraised vulnerable Democratic incumbents in Alaska and Arkansas:

Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor raised $1.22 million — slightly lagging behind his Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, who brought in $1.35 million, according to announcements from the campaigns.

Pryor is also burning through cash more quickly than Cotton, spending more than $1 million – almost as much as he raised – in the same time period. Cotton spent about $860,000.

But Pryor still holds the cash-on-hand advantage. He has $4.4 million in the bank, while Cotton has $2.7 million. Recent polls have also shown Pryor with only a slight edge over Cotton.

Alaska Sen. Mark Begich was also outraised by his likely GOP challenger, Dan Sullivan, for the second consecutive quarter. Begich brought in $1.05 million and has $2.8 million in the bank, while Sullivan raised 1.3 million and has just under $2 million on hand, their campaigns announced.

The bad news is that Sens. Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA), both of whom are vulnerable, maintain a cash advantage over their potential Republican challengers. These two seats are must-wins if Republicans hope to take control of the chamber.

In North Carolina, there is no clear frontrunner in what has become a contentious Republican primary. In Louisiana, there is a clear frontrunner, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), but Landrieu is going to be a formidable incumbent to beat, even though the state is traditionally red-leaning.

Another concerning point is that Democrat-backed outside groups, including the DCCC and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) PAC, by did well in the first quarter of the year and hold a sizable money advantage over Republicans:

An imprecise snapshot of political giving through March 31 shows enormous sums of money moving through the national parties, their campaign committees and outside groups. Millions more are being raised and spent through other outside groups that operate under rules that allow them to keep many details of their finances secret.

Democrats, at least for the moment, seem to have a roughly 3-to-1 advantage over Republicans in cash raised and banked through independent groups, according to the early filings. That balance of power could quickly change, however.

Democratic donors turned their attention to the Senate after DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) conceded that the party is unlikely to win back the House. But the DCCC’s impressive, $10 million fundraising haul in the first quarter and even the slightest, favorable shift in public opinion toward President Barack Obama and Obamacare could change that narrative.

One thing the Republican base has to keep in mind is that the political winds can change very quickly and very sharply. Complancency is, at this point, the GOP’s biggest enemy. The lessons of 2012, when most of the party faithful believed the election was in the bag for Mitt Romney, should be heeded as Republicans approach what mary very well be one of the most bitter elections in recent memory.

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