updated 10/22/2004 2:17:22 PM ET 2004-10-22T18:17:22

Holding much of their fire until the end, the Democratic and Republican parties have each poured tens of millions of dollars into the presidential race this month.

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The parties’ national committees can each spend roughly $16 million in coordination with their presidential nominees. By mid-month, the Democratic National Committee had used $13 million of that total, while the Republican National Committee had just over $4 million in coordinated spending.

The two committees can spend unlimited amounts independent of Sen. John Kerry and President Bush, and that spending accounts for the bulk of the parties’ activities so far this month.

The DNC spent nearly $52 million total in the first two weeks of October, while the RNC used up nearly $43 million, pre-election campaign finance reports they filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission show.

The GOP committee entered the last two weeks of the race with more than twice as much in the bank as its Democratic rival. The RNC had nearly $53 million on hand, compared with $24 million for the DNC.

Kerry finished the first half of October with a slight cash edge over Bush, though each has less than a third of his $75 million budget left. Both accepted full government financing for the general election.

Kerry had just over $24 million on hand as of mid-month, compared with $22 million left for Bush. Both spent around $14 million in the first half of October, according to their pre-election reports.

Bush vs. Kerry issue-by-issueThe $150 million in general-election spending by Bush and Kerry is a fraction of the overall election cost. Total spending in the presidential and congressional races will approach an estimated $4 billion, nearly $1 billion more than the 2000 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks campaign finance.

Millions of dollars continue pouring in to outside groups spending in the presidential race.

Two anti-Bush groups, the Media Fund and America Coming Together, shared a $5 million October donation from billionaire financier George Soros, who previously gave such groups at least $14 million. The Media Fund and ACT received $4 million this month from Ohio businessman Peter Lewis, boosting his giving to such groups to at least $18 million, an analysis by the nonpartisan Political Money Line found.

The November Fund, an anti-trial lawyer group that opposes Democratic vice presidential candidate and former personal injury lawyer John Edwards, raised at least $2 million from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce this month. Unlike the RNC and DNC, nonparty groups like The November Fund, Media Fund and ACT can raise unlimited donations from any source, though they face limits on how they can spend them.

The Democratic and Republican congressional fund-raising committees also filed updates this week on their finances as of mid-month. The National Republican Senatorial Committee reported $10 million in the bank, with no debt; the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $6.1 million on hand and $5.1 million in debts; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $17 million left, no debt; and the National Republican Congressional Committee, $14.3 million on hand, no debt.

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