Spending on Indiana’s hotly contested Senate seat has more than doubled since 2012, data shows

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With less than two weeks remaining before the midterm election, more voters in Indiana are headed to the polls early and groups are spending more money to try to sway their votes.

Long lines at new satellite early voting sites in Marion County Friday painted a picture that is backed up by statewide numbers: more people are voting early than in previous midterm elections.

According to data provided to CBS4 by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, nearly 300,000 people had cast their votes early by Thursday, October 25. That was verging close to the 341,000 who had cast early ballots in the same period during the 2016 Presidential election, and it was way ahead of 2014’s midterm election, which drew less than 200,000 early voters to the polls due to a lack of a big race.

The jump can be explained largely by national attention on the Senate race between incumbent Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, and challenger Mike Braun, a Republican. The outcome could help determine which party controls the Senate.

In the battle to influence voters, there’s a lot more money being spent, too.

Federal Election Commission data shows that Donnelly’s campaign has spent nearly $14 million and Braun’s campaign $15.5 million. That’s more than double the spending during Donnelly’s first race in 2012, when his campaign spent only $5.5 million.

Those numbers don’t include independent spending, which is where much of the big money lies. IUPUI’s Political Science Department Chair Aaron Dusso told CBS4 that money in politics has increased dramatically in all races since 2012, and when you include the money spent by outside groups, the numbers go way up.

“It’s probably going to approach $100 million, just in Indiana, if you combine all spending,” Dusso said. “The last number I saw was they were approaching $700 million in independent spending across the country.”

According to Dusso, we won’t know exactly how much money has been spent until after the election on November 6. He said it’s likely to go down to the wire, and independent groups will keep a close eye on polls to decide where to place their money up to Election Day.

“Being the majority party matters and so Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, West Virginia, Florida, these are the seats that are going to determine it. Money’s going to be flying in more and more every day,” Dusso said.

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