Vulnerable Senate Democrats off to quick fundraising starts

Eight Democrats have topped $1 million raised in the last three months. Sen. Al Franken (Minn.) leads the pack so far with just under $2 million raised, with Sen. Mark Pryor (Ark.) close behind after a $1.9 million quarter. Sen. Kay Hagan (N.C.) brought in $1.6 million, Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.) raised $1.5 million, and Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) brought in $1.2 million apiece. Landrieu has just shy of $3.5 million in the bank for her reelection push.

Early money is key for these candidates, as many are likely to face well-funded challengers and Republican-affiliated outside groups have a big cash advantage. Candidates also get air time at cheaper rates than committees and outside groups, making their money go further. 

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One caveat: Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) haven't posted their fundraising totals, and candidates with lower numbers often wait until the last minute to put their numbers out. Baucus already has $3.6 million in the bank, however, money that goes far in the inexpensive state. Begich had just shy of $1 million as of the end of 2012.

Another solid haul comes from Rep. Bruce Braley (Iowa), Democrats' likely nominee to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Braley brought in $1 million as well.

In most of these races there are no announced GOP candidates, giving Democrats a jump-start on fundraising. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), the GOP front-runner to replace retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) did have a strong haul for an inexpensive state, bringing in more than $900,000. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who recently announced a bid against Landrieu, brought in $500,000 but has a strong $2.4 million warchest.

Pryor, Landrieu, Hagan, Begich and Baucus are likely the most vulnerable incumbents.