WASHINGTON — Democrats have a financial advantage in the contest for control of the House of Representatives. That's right, Democrats.

Ever since Republicans took control of the House in 1994, they have outraised the Democrats. Contributors pay for access and influence, and they would much rather get to members of the majority party, especially subcommittee and committee leaders. When the Republicans took over those posts in 1995, business and trade groups no longer needed to give to Democrats, and Republican fund raising soared.

Another piece of the Republican advantage was a more effective fund-raising operation, maintaining a base of small donors who were reliable.

This year, neither factor seems to matter very much, as Democrats have greatly improved fund-raising efforts and contributors hedge their bets. They know it will take a net gain of only six Democratic seats to install Democrats in House positions of power, so they are giving to both sides.

Last week, when the Federal Election Commission released data for the 15 months that ended March 31, it showed that the House Democratic campaign committee had substantially more money in the bank than did its Republican counterpart.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reported $15,082,503 in soft money, the unregulated contributions from business, labor and rich people. The National Republican Congressional Committee had $9,818,178. When it came to hard money, the regulated contributions from individuals and political action committees, Democrats held a narrower advantage: $9,308,266 to the Republicans' $8,449,372.

Democrats also held an advantage in the fund raising in individual House races.

When The New York Times examined 24 districts widely believed to be winnable by either party, comparing one candidate from each party (the nominee or, if none had been chosen, the leading fund-raiser), the advantage was with the Democrats. Their median receipt was $655,849, compared with $539,893 for the Republicans. And the Democratic candidates reported median cash on hand of $433,892, while the Republicans showed $325,907.

When the focus was narrowed to the 11 open seats — those for which no one has the advantage of incumbency — on that list of two dozen, the Democratic cash advantage grew. The Democrats' bank accounts held a median total of $395,911 to $237,067 for the Republicans'.

None of this means that the Democrats are going to take control of the House. But it means that one traditional Republican advantage is gone.