National Democrats have nearly eliminated the fundraising advantage that their Republican rivals have had since campaign finance laws were changed five years ago.

The Republican National Committee and its House and Senate committees barely edged out their Democratic counterparts in first-quarter fundraising. Each side raised just over $47 million but the GOP came out on top by a difference of just $76,049.66, according to figures from both parties.

But the Democrats spent much less in the first three months of the year, so they have more in the bank. The three Democratic committees have $26.1 million on hand, compared to $18.9 million for the Republicans.

At the same point in the cycle four years ago, the Republicans had $54 million to the Democrats’ $19 million.

The Democratic advantage came from the congressional committees, which outraised the Republicans now that they hold majorities in the House and Senate. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s total contributions were $13.4 million, compared to the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s $7 million, including $500,000 from a joint fundraiser with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought in $19 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $15.8 million.

The Republican National Committee came out on top, though, with $24.6 million to the Democratic National Committee’s $15 million.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press