Ever since Woodward and Bernstein's heyday, the phrase "follow the money" has become something of a cliche in political reporting. But cliche or not, there is always a clear corelation between the amount of money spent by independent groups in the last few weeks of a campaign and the closeness of the contest.
Independent expenditure committees often have a lot of money to throw around in legislative races, but they are in no rush to just throw it away. They follow polls closely, and spend their money only in campaigns in which they believe it can make a difference.
That said, the contest in the 19th state Senate District between Oxnard Harbor District Commissioner Jason Hodge and former Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara, both Democrats, must be fairly close.
On Saturday, another $75,000 was dropped into the race, most of it from a group making its first expense -- one called "California Alliance, a coalition of consumer attorneys and conservationists." That's a significant amount of money for mail, so it probably means two pieces, in support of Jackson.
Meanwhile, the California Professional Firefighers reported spending another $17,700 on mail in support of Hodge, a fellow firefighter,
Hard to say what the private polling is showing -- those poll results are always closely guarded -- but it's safe to say that two big outside players wouldn't be dropping that kind of money into the race this close to Election Day unless they thought the outcome remains in doubt.