Democrats who control Congress now dominate the means of getting there, having spent more money, raised more and received more from special interests than the Republicans.

The Federal Election Commission put the price tag for electing the 101st Congress last year at $458 million, not appreciably higher than it was to finance the campaigns of the 100th Congress two years earlier.However, the commission, in a report issued Thursday, found that the Democrats now have surpassed the Republicans in raising money for Senate campaigns from political action committees. In the House, the Democrats have widened the lead they held previously.

One result is that Republicans suddenly are sounding like threadbare populists, while Democrats say they have made peace with the captains of industry who once regarded them with suspicion.

"All of the Democrats' expressions of concerns about the Republicans being the party of moneyed interests are shown up by these figures to be absolutely false," said John Buckley, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which provides money and other help for GOP House candidates.

However, Anita Dunn, spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said her party was able to recruit stronger candidates and they, in turn, were able to attract greater contributions.