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American Crossroads and 60 Plus Keep Spending Big Before Midterms

Two of the largest conservative-leaning outside spending groups — American Crossroads and the 60 Plus Association — are stepping up their spending with new ad buys today, underscoring once again the shifting landscape – which I’ve written a story about today — in which outside groups are making more independent expenditures than the traditional party committees.

American Crossroads is branching out, as promised, from the tens of millions it has laid out in Senate races to spend more than $3 million on ads targeting Democrats in 12 House districts. Having raised more cash than anticipated, the group is taking the fight largely to districts once considered solidly Democratic. Eight of the dozen districts in question — which include Hawaii’s 1st, California’s 20th and Missouri’s 3rd — were won handily by Barack Obama in 2008.

But if Republicans are feeling increasingly bullish about the amount of seats they may pick up in the House, the contested Senate seats in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois and even Nevada look within the Democrats’ grasp — which raises the question: Why is American Crossroads spreading itself thin and not doubling down on its investments in those races?

The 60 Plus Association, meanwhile, is running an ad that calls for the repeal of the Democrats’ health care reform bill. The group, which calls itself the conservative alternative to the AARP, has served mainly as a vehicle for interests that opposed Democrats’ plans to overhaul the medical system, leading a $9 million campaign against the bill in 2009. During this election cycle, it’s spent about $6 million attacking dozens of Democratic congressmen for their votes in favor of reform, but this appears to be the first ad that advocates directly for repeal.

Such a broad issue ad a week before midterm elections seems like a strange approach, but it’s no doubt meant to galvanize voters over a bill that remains slightly more unpopular than it is popular. With all the rhetoric for repeal, it will be interesting to see how such expectations, generated by both Republicans and groups like 60 Plus, jibe with repeal’s slim odds in the next Congress. When the movement for repeal inevitably gets stalled in Congress, will Tea Party groups grow frustrated with their newly elected officials or simply grow angrier at Democrats? And how much time will Republican leadership devote to pushing the idea in Congress when it appears likely to just cause gridlock?

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