MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is on pace for record political spending this year, already exceeding 2014’s midterm election money.

A new report from the University of Minnesota says most of the money spent on election campaigns this year may be for negative ads.

“Minnesota has a large number, an unusually large number, [of] highly competitive races,” said Kathryn Pearson, a political science professor at the U of M.

Pearson and a team of researchers dug up all the different kinds of campaign spending on federal and state offices as of October 18.

(credit: CBS)

The total so far is $94 million, surpassing 2014’s midterm spending at $83 million.

The biggest reason is four competitive races for Congress that could flip control of the House from Republican to Democrat.

Pearson says that among the report’s most surprising findings is the vast majority of “independent expenditures” are being used to fuel negative campaigns ads, instead of positive ones.

Ninety-four percent of all of the millions of dollars of independent Republican funds are used for attack ads against Democrats.

In contrast, 56 percent of Democratic money is used for negative attacks against Republicans — helping make close races even closer.

“The most expensive races are the ones that are won and lost by the narrowest of margins because donors are strategic, and they give to the races that are going to be the closest,” Pearson said.

Minnesota is already hitting the $1-million mark, with two weeks left to go. The biggest question is whether all that money will actually make a difference.

Pat Kessler