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Money flowing into the senate race
BY CHELYEN DAVIS
The Tim Kaine-George Allen matchup is one of the hottest Senate races this year, a tight race in a critical battleground presidential state that could determine which party controls the Senate.
Both candidates have been running for well over a year, and, in all that time, polls consistently show the race in a dead heat.
Now Election Day is two months away, and both candidates are trying to move the numbers and lure undecided voters.
Many of those undecideds are newer Virginians, those who never voted for either Kaine or Allen, said University of Mary Washington political analyst Stephen Farnsworth.
"Longtime Virginia residents are not going to be particularly persuadable in this election. They've had the opportunity to reach their own conclusions about Allen and Kaine over the years," Farnsworth said. "Both Allen and Kaine were relatively successful governors, they're relatively well-known, they're people who voters have had a chance to think about and evaluate over the years."
Newer Virginians, Farnsworth said, are "far more significant" to each campaign trying to find votes, and those voters are also more likely to look at the presidential race and let their choice there influence their Senate vote.
Both Kaine and Allen say they expect the presidential race to bleed over into their own race.
"I think it's clearly going to have an effect on my candidacy and George's," Kaine said. "But people know me and George pretty well."
Allen said polling indicates he's running about 2 to 3 percent ahead of Romney in Virginia.
But he thinks the race will come down to 10,000 or so votes.
The tightness of the race explains why voters are seeing so many ads for the race, so early.
Both Kaine and Allen went up with ads this summer--Allen has recently delayed a new round of ads until later this month. Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that allows corporations to funnel money into political ads, voters are seeing even more ads from third-party interest groups bashing the candidates.
Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads is the biggest spender.
Kaine has denounced the third-party ads and tried to pressure Allen into doing the same.
Kaine calls them "secret money ads" and says he'd support reforming the laws that allow them.