4 Nov 2014

Midterms 2014 – the $4bn bunfight for US power

Democrat and Republican candidates across the United States have been trading insults in the most expensive midterm campaign ever. We look at six of the most close-fought contests.

Welcome to the most expensive midterm elections in history. An astonishing $4bn (£2.5bn) has been spent by candidates and outside groups – with the Republicans pinning their hopes on picking up six new Senate seats to win a majority in both houses of Congress.

Here are some races to watch.


Down-to-earth Democrat Mark Begich (above) won by just a few thousand votes in 2008. He faces a Republican challenge from decorated Marine reservist Dan Sullivan – two candidates who couldn’t be ideologically further apart.

All sorts of accusations have been flying between the two – over their records, probity and commitment to Alaska. It’s one of the tightest races in the nation.

Michelle Nunn/David Perdue (Reuters)


An open seat with another knife-edge race between Democrat Michelle Nunn and the GOP’s David Perdue (above), a Fortune 500 CEO who’s boasted of creating thousands of jobs.

However, his record on outsourcing jobs to multinationals abroad has become something of a focus, and the presence of a libertarian candidate could split the vote and force a run-off.

Joni Ernst (Getty Images)


The Republicans are forging ahead, with their gun-loving, anti-abortion campaigning candidate Joni Ernst (above).

She’s a one-time National Guard commander who was raised on a farm, and her “Iowa values” campaign has moved her above 50 per cent in the latest polls.

The Democrats’ Bruce Braley, a liberal with union backing, wasn’t helped by being caught on video slagging off a Republican senator as an “Iowa farmer” with no law degree.

A massive $60m (£37.5m) has spent on this race by outside groups.

Pat Roberts/Greg Orman (Getty Images)


There’s big money being spent on the Kansas race too, where the Koch brothers are backing GOP Pat Roberts (above right) against an independent multi-millionaire, Greg Orman (above left). Unusually, the Democrats pulled out after deciding Orman was actually in with a chance.

All sorts of high-profile Republicans have flown in to help Roberts, from John McCain to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, all trying to portray Orman as a closet liberal with a shady business background.

Alison Grimes (Reuters)


Actual tears are being spilled in Kentucky, where Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is being given a run for his (not inconsiderable) money by 35-year-old Democrat high-flier Alison Lundergan Grimes (above).

He’s raised an astonishing $53m (£33m), adding in a million of his own money to boost the cause. “He can buy the airwaves,” Grimes said at a recent rally, tearing up as she spoke, “but not the hearts and minds of each and every one of you.”

McConnell’s dream of becoming majority leader is on the line.

Wendy Davies (Reuters)


And a governor’s race to watch – in Texas. Remember Wendy Davies (above)? She’s the state legislator who won nationwide acclaim after her marathon filibuster, aimed at blocking tough new abortion restrictions.

This time, though, she’s trailing badly behind the wheelchair-bound Republican Greg Abbott – and an attack ad which was accused of crossing the line on disability issues has badly backfired.