WASHINGTON -- Independent Republican groups are heavily outspending their Democratic counterparts on TV 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 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 have also 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 TV ad 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.
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The recent recall election in Wisconsin "should serve as a wake-up call," he wrote, referring to the lopsided advantage in spending by outside groups that helped Republican Gov. Scott Walker overcome a union-backed bid to dump him from office.
David Axelrod, a top strategist for the president, is expected to meet Monday in New York with potential donors to a group backing Obama, according to officials familiar with his plans.