Dems raising big bucks despite complaints about GOP campaign spending

Aug. 29, 2014: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a conference  in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Aug. 29, 2014: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (AP)

Despite Democratic claims that GOP candidates are trying to buy elections with outside money from billionaire donors, campaign finance reports show Republicans aren't the only ones with deep-pocketed friends. 

The latest disclosures to the Federal Election Commission indicate the 2014 race for campaign cash is tightening. 

In fact, Democrats are actually outpacing Republicans when it comes to total fundraising for the political parties and their committees. 

Senate Democrats have outraised Senate Republicans, $111 million to $82.5 million. House Democrats are ahead of House Republicans, $146 million to $113 million. 

As for the parties themselves, the Republican National Committee has outraised the Democratic National Committee -- but all told, Democrats remain ahead by $75 million. 

But it is independent expenditures by outside groups that really rile up the likes of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. 

Reid has been railing against the libertarian-leaning billionaire Koch brothers for years. They have pledged to spend some $290 million this year to elect conservatives. But Reid's fundraising juggernaut, the Senate Majority PAC, plans to spend $46 million by itself to thwart Republican rivals. 

That's not all. In the 10 Senate races where the most outside money's been spent, liberal groups have spent $97 million compared with $79 million for conservative groups. 

Overall, there are hundreds of outside groups pouring as much as a billion dollars into campaigns across the country this year. A final accounting after the election is expected to shatter records and show the two parties are competing on a level playing field. 

The Center for Responsive Politics calculates that liberal outside groups have spent $126 million for Democrats and against Republicans this year -- while conservative groups have spent $114.7 million for the opposing purpose. 

"The Democrats have realized that these are the rules of the game. As much as they have professed not to like them, they have to play by them. And I think they have a lot of big donors stepping up to the plate," CRP communications director Viveca Novak said. 

One example of that is the Democracy Alliance, a coalition of 180 progressive groups and individual millionaire and billionaire liberals who gathered in Chicago this spring to make so-called investment recommendations to their members. They have pledged to spend more than $374 million to help defeat Republicans. 

What's more, the AFL-CIO by itself has pledged to spend an additional $300 million to help elect Democrats.