South Carolina House Race Defined by People Who Aren't Running

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Sanford has a point. Outside groups have reported spending more than $1.1 million on the race, nearly all of it to attack him.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reported spending nearly $460,000 attacking Sanford in the district, and House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC that focuses on House races, has reported spending more than $425,000 to hit him. VoteVets has added another $48,000.

While his opponent has enjoyed all that outside backing, Sanford himself has gone without. Without any help from the NRCC, Sanford's largest financial supporter, by far, is the conservative group Independent Women's Voices, which has spent $160,000 on TV ads attacking Colbert Busch. Sanford is backed by FreedomWorks, the National Right to Life Committee, and the South Forward PAC, but none have spent more than $16,000 on the race.

Colbert Busch, for her part, has resisted the notion that she's beholden to those outside backers. She has campaigned as an independnent-minded, centrist businesswoman unafraid to buck the national party.

"No one tells me what to do except the people of the First District," she told Sanford during their debate.

Not all outside forces at play have had significant effect on the race. Only one candidate enjoys the sarcastic backing of porn king Larry Flynt, but it's difficult to tell whether that endorsement -- or any other -- has had much impact.

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