LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- If the fundraising numbers are any indication, the campaign for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky is a dead heat.

Alison Lundergan Grimes and Mitch McConnell are neck-and-neck in the race to raise money. In fact, Grimes slightly outraised McConnell in the last quarter.  But the importance of that number depends on who you talk to.

Alison Lundergan Grimes has made few campaign appearances so far, but she apparently has been hard at work behind the scenes.  According to numbers just released, Grimes has raised $2.5 million since July.

McConnell had his best quarter ever, yet his $2.3 million was less than Grimes.

"Grimes is going to be in thick of things. She's going to have the money it takes to run a credible campaign, and this just proves that," said Democratic consultant Bob Gunnell.

But the McConnell campaign is calling Grimes' numbers "mediocre" and points out that McConnell has $10 million in cash on hand, five times more than Grimes.

Critics say she'll have to do much better to beat McConnell.  "She'd better get busy. She said she needs $25 or 30 million to beat him, and at this fundraising clip, she's not going to get that much," said WDRB columnist John David Dyche.

Meanwhile, McConnell's primary opponent, Matt Bevin, brought in more than $800,000. But three-quarters of that came from Bevin himself.

What's not clear, at least not yet, is how much the partial government shutdown may affect the race.  McConnell has released a radio ad blaming the Democrats, while Grimes has produced a video saying it's McConnell's fault.

Both sides stand to gain, or lose.

"From her being on the outside right now, she's able to gain traction by saying, 'We just want somebody different'", said Gunnell.

"He's fulfilling a responsible leadership role in Washington to solve the problem, while she's suggested nothing," said Dyche.

The fundraising numbers have certainly cranked up the campaign spin machines.

The Grimes campaign says the numbers illustrate strong grassroots support, while the McConnell camp says Grimes' money has come from the national liberal elite.

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