Billionaire Meg Whitman is everywhere on the radio with ads, and her polling numbers are starting to show the advantage that money can make early in a campaign.
In the money race, the former eBay CEO is stretching out her lead over state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Both have lent their campaigns $19 million.
But Whitman is starting the year with $30.5 million cash on hand, even after spending $19 million.
Poizner is reporting $17.5 million, but he's spent just a little over $4 million. Meaning Whitman has outspent him 4 to 1 and it's showing up in the polls -- Whitman has a 28 point lead in the latest field poll and the most recent PPIC poll shows her with a 30 point advantage over Poizner.
But she still trails attorney general Jerry Brown, who is running without significant opposition on the Democratic side and has built a war chest of $12 million while spending what his staff says has been a minimal amount. They won't release the actual number until Monday.
In the U.S. Senate race, incumbent Barbara Boxer has $7.2 million cash on hand, and she has raised and spent more than her competitors combined.
Carly Fiorina is the deep pocket candidate on the Republican side. Earlier this month, she announced loaning her campaign $2.5 million. She just released her financials that show $2.7 million cash on hand. She's raised $1.1 million so far and spent $900,000.
Far behind Fiorina in the money race is Orange County Assemblyman Chuck Devore. On Monday, he'll report $226,000 cash on hand. He raised $1.2 million in 2009 and has also spent nearly a $1 million in that time.
The real dark horse in the money race is Tom Campbell. He didn't announce until this month, so on Monday he'll report no money raised in the final quarter of 2009.
He did raise $1.2 million in his run for governor, but that money can't be transferred to the Senate race.
Even with that late start, Campbell is leading in the latest polls. He's got an 11 point lead over Carly Fiorina and 19 points better than Devore.
So, how much does money matter?
"Unfortunately money always matters in politics," Fiorina said.
That's true but it doesn't always pick the winner. Remember Ross Perot or Michael Huffington -- they broke spending records in losing efforts.
Because the deadline of January 31st falls on Sunday, the Secretary of State has pushed the official reporting deadline in the governor's race to midnight on Monday.