When political analysts label election races as “competitive,

We at the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics have found that In the money race, incumbent senators have a 4:1 advantage over their current challengers. House incumbents have outraised their current challengers 7:2.

All told, we predict, this election will cost about $2.6 billion. That’s a lot compared to past elections – it’s shaping up to be the most expensive midterm election ever. But compared to other things, is what the U.S. spends on its federal elections really a lot of money? General Motors spent $3 billion on advertising alone in 2005. Americans will spend more eating out in restaurants over the course of two days than we’ll spend on this election. Coincidentally, conspiracy theorists, $2.6 billion—the Center’s election prediction—was the 2005 revenue of Diebold, maker of the machines many voters will encounter on Election Day.