Monday November 05, 2012 | 12:14 PM

WASHINGTON – At this point in the election cycle, it’s easy to see which Senate races are still considered to be “in play” by looking at where the major parties and interest groups are choosing to spend their remaining dollars.

And by that measure, Maine’s race does not appear to be one of them.

After weeks of steady growth, spending by out-of-state groups ­– such as political action committees, super PACs and national party committees – appears to have plateaued. That is due, no doubt, to the fact that independent Angus King continues to enjoy a sizable lead in the polls over Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill.

Total outside spending in Maine has hovered around the $7 million mark since the middle of last week. As of Monday morning, the figure was just shy of $7.4 million, up from $5.8 million on Oct. 23rd. While there’s often a lag of several days between when groups cut a check and when that expenditure is reported to the Federal Election Commission, the trend in Maine is clear.

Compare that to Virginia, where spending by outside groups unaffiliated with any campaign jumped from $32 million on Oct. 23rd to $53 million on Monday. Likewise, independent expenditures during that same time period rose from $28 million to $46 million in Wisconsin and from $10 million to $22 million in Arizona.

You can find a map of outside spending in U.S. Senate races here.

By early last week, it was clear that many of the major national spenders in Maine’s race such as the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee were either walking away from Maine or scaling back their investment in the state. Several recent polls -- including one conducted for the Portland Press Herald – showed why as King continues to lead Summers by double digits.

Nationwide, outside groups have spent more than $1.2 billion to influence the 2012, which is even more than many analysts expected.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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