Printed on: November 19, 2013

GOP contributions down; hints at donor uncertainty

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The biggest Republican-leaning money machines are spending dramatically less this year to help the party ahead of the 2014 Senate elections, two years after millions of dollars in early advertising by outside groups against Democrats backfired in embarrassing losses in otherwise winnable races.

Groups such as American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce no longer are willing to risk major investments on hard-line conservatives who embarrassed GOP leaders last fall and rattled the confidence of party donors. Many remain concerned after last month's government shutdown highlighted Republican divisions.

Outside spending on television ads designed to benefit Republican Senate candidates is down almost 60 percent compared with two years ago, according to spending reports. There are signs that the shift is shaping the national fight for the Senate majority.

Republicans need six seats to win Senate control, a goal that strategists on both sides say is within reach, considering veteran Democratic retirements in GOP-leaning and swing-voting states, including Montana.