Since September, Americans for Prosperity, a group financed in part by the billionaire Koch brothers, has spent an estimated $20 million on television ads calling out House and Senate Democrats by name for their support of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare.
The NY Times notes that Democrats are increasingly anxious the onslaught of hitting vulnerable Senate and House candidates for their support of the new health law, since many lack the resources to fight back with their own ads in the early stages of the midterm campaign.
“The unusually aggressive early run of television ads, which has been supplemented by other conservative initiatives, has gone largely unanswered, and strategists in both parties agree it is taking a toll on its targets,” said the story.
Building on the success, the deep-pocketed organization disclosed on Tuesday that it was expanding its Senate efforts with $1.8 million in airtime to attack Democratic House members running for the Senate in Iowa and Michigan, where Democrats are viewed as holding an early advantage. The group was also moving into Montana, a state where Democrats may struggle to defend a seat, on behalf of a Republican House member running for the Senate.
Campaign experts said they believe that the early advertising blitz has driven down the support for Senate incumbents in highly competitive states such as Louisiana and North Carolina that are critical to the Democratic Party’s push to hold its majority.
Here’s some of the ad copy and the number of times the ads criticizing candidate’s stance on the health law aired between 6/1/1313, and 1/12/14:
–“Kay Hagan told us, if you like your insurance plan and your doctors, you could keep them. That just wasn’t true.”
Sen. Kay Hagan North Carolina
–“Mary Landrieu cast the deciding vote for Obamacare. Now, Landrieu is backtracking, and trying to avoid accountability.”
Sen. Mary L. Landrieu Louisiana
–“Obamacare means higher costs for struggling families. … yet Congressman Rob Barber supports Obamacare.”
Rep. Ron Barber Arizona 2nd
–“Ann Kirkpatrick voted for Washington’s government takeover of health care. … Now Arizonans are losing the health care plans they love.”
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick Arizona 1st
–“Lots of promises were made to pass Obamacare. … Senator Begich didn’t listen. How can I trust him again?”
Sen. Mark Begich Alaska
–“Obamacare doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work. Tell Congressman Murphy to stop thinking about politics and start thinking about people.”
Rep. Patrick Murphy Florida 18th
–“I’m supposed to trust my family’s health care to a website that doesn’t even work? Call Congressman Rahall, and tell him West Virginia families deserve better than Obamacare.”
Rep. Nick J. Rahall West Virginia 3rd
–“It’s the lie of the year: ‘You can keep your insurance if you like it.’ And Senator Shaheen kept telling it.”
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen New Hampshire
Source: N Y Times/Campaign Media Analysis Group at Kantar Media
Note: Totals do not include local cable advertising.
There has been limited Democratic response by independent groups in some of the battlegrounds, said the story. Notably, the Senate Majority PAC has countered with television ads against potential Republican contenders in Louisiana and New Hampshire and with ads supporting Ms. Hagan in North Carolina.
The Democratic group, led by allies of Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, is not keeping pace dollar for dollar with Americans for Prosperity. For example, those who closely track ad expenditures say the conservative group has spent about $5 million in North Carolina compared with just under $1.5 million by the Democratic organization. In Louisiana, the comparable estimates are about $1.8 million for the conservatives and $625,000 for the Democratic PAC.
“We absolutely have to keep battling back, and we can’t let ads go unanswered,” said Ty Matsdorf, campaign director for the Democratic PAC.
The leaders of Americans for Prosperity intend to keep up the pressure and in the new ads will turn more to the experiences of Americans dealing with the health law.
“People are moving beyond their frustration with the technology and toward the actual service,” Levi Russell, a spokesman for the organization, told the NY Times. “Obamacare’s more unpopular now than it ever has been, and it’s important to us to emphasize that message of accountability.”
RBR-TVBR observation: The problems with the HealthCare.gov website, the millions of cancelled policies and the realization that health care is now even more expensive than ever for many is going to give Republicans a leg up in the primaries, no doubt. The money is flowing from the Republican side and it’s a good time to reach out to the Democratic candidates and PACs to get on the plans and buys now for when that money does come in. The creative will hopefully show how Obamacare got off to a bad start, but is now working—if indeed it is fixed in time. What many don’t realize is that it’s really just a tax on those that choose not to get health insurance. That tax can only be taken out of your income tax refund. People shouldn’t think they are being forced to get healthcare, because they are not.