Outside the presidential race, where’s all the money been going in this election cycle? Well, the runner-up isn’t any of the country’s contested congressional races—not by a long shot. It’s the battle over the proposition to defeat gay marriage in California, whose supporters and opponents have raised nearly twice as much in donations as the most expensive Senate race. From U.S. News & World Report:

According to outside estimates, the campaigns for and against Proposition 8 have raised more than $60 million in donations, setting a new record nationally for a social policy initiative—and trumping every other race in the country this year in spending except the presidential contest.

In comparison, the Franken-Coleman race in Minnesota—the priciest senate or congressional race—has raised “just” $33 million combined. Why has a battle over a state ballot initiative been so flush with cash, with some $30 million going to each side? As T.A. Frank discussed in his story this week, the anti-gay marriage crusaders have successfully rallied deep-pocketed, out-of-state right-wingers to pump money into their campaign. Conservative activists began to flood the airwaves with pricey TV ads last month, forcing their opponents to fundraise and hit back furiously as the race has tightened. Prop 8, once headed for defeat, now has a strong chance of passing. If the anti-gay marriage activists prove victorious (or manage to lose by only a small margin), social conservatives will doubtlessly point to California as evidence that the religious right can still bring in the money and the votes—and should reposition itself to take over the Republican Party.

--Suzy Khimm