Ad spending shows the Dems are pulling midterm hopes on abortion

Ad spending shows the Dems are pulling midterm hopes on abortion

WASHINGTON (AP) – Democrats are pumping an unprecedented amount of money into abortion-rights advertising, showing how central the message is to the party in the final weeks before November’s midterm elections.

With the most intense campaign period just beginning, Democrats have already invested more than $124 million this year in television advertising that references abortion. That’s more than twice as much money as Democrats’ next issue this year, “character,” and nearly 20 times more than Democrats spent on abortion-related ads in the 2018 midterms.

The estimated spending figures, based on an Associated Press analysis of data provided by the nonpartisan research firm AdImpact, show the extent to which Democrats are betting their majorities in Congress and governorships on a single issue. That’s even as the vast majority of Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction and the economy is in bad shape.

The advertising numbers also show how sharply Republicans are backing away from abortion in their paid advertising in the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, a decades-long target of the GOP. (The AdImpact data captures each time a campaign ad airs on TV, and estimates the cost of those airings.)

Since the High Court’s decision in June to end the constitutional right to abortion, about 1 in 3 television advertising dollars spent by Democrats and their allies has focused on abortion. Much of the spending is intended to attack the Republicans on the ballot this fall who have long opposed abortion rights and are currently pushing state-by-state to restrict abortion rights or end the practice. altogether prohibited.

The Democrats’ unprecedented investment in abortion messages on television this year through September 18 is greater than the Republican Party’s combined national investment in ads related to the economy, crime and immigration.

“With less than 60 days until the election, we refuse to stand by as out-of-step anti-choice Republicans attempt to control our bodies and our future while simultaneously lying to the voters,” said Melissa Williams , executive director of the Council. Women Vote!, an outside group that has invested more than $4 million in abortion-related ads this year. “We are making sure that every voter knows the candidates they are standing for and against to protect this right.”

The overturning of Roe v. the overwhelming focus of Democrats on abortion is perhaps not surprising. Wade and the subsequent wave of Republican-backed abortion bans in more than a dozen states. But there is still a sharp departure in the strategy from the party’s focus in recent years on former President Donald Trump and on other issues such as the economy, education and health care.

In the 2018 midterm elections, for example, Democrats spent less than $6 million on abortion-related television advertising. That’s compared to the $51 million Democrats invested in Trump-related ads, $49 million on health care and $46 million on education, according to AdImpact.

Jessica Floyd, president of American Bridge, a Democratic-affiliated super PAC that has run abortion-related advertising in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, described abortion as “the ultimate health care issue” for women and families. The Supreme Court’s decision and the subsequent push by Republicans to ban abortion in some states, she said, amounts to “a rollback of rights, which is unprecedented.”

“It’s a very powerful motivator,” Floyd said. “It goes against everything we know voters care about – especially the voters who will decide this election.”

Television advertising data shows that Republicans, too, have invested millions of dollars in abortion messages. But most of those ads ran during the primary phase of the campaign last spring and summer as Republican candidates touted their anti-abortion credentials. The number of Republican ads aired referring to abortion has decreased every month since May.

As the calendar has shifted to the fall general election, the gap between Democratic and Republican spending on abortion ads has widened even further. So far this month, for example, Democrats and their allies have put out more than 68,000 TV-referenced abortion ads — more than 15 times more than their Republican counterparts. They have spent about $31 million on such ads compared to the GOP’s outlay of $2.8 million. Even Republican leaders such as GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel admitted in a recent interview that her party cannot allow Democrats to control the abortion issue.

“It’s very clear that that’s the one thing that the Democrats are running on, right? They don’t run on a good economy. They can’t run on the public being safer. They can’t run on education ,” McDaniel said. “So what are they going to do? They’re going to make everything about abortion, which means we’re going to have to talk about it like Republicans do.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-C., angered Republican leaders last week by proposing a national ban on abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy. It was the type of legislation that Republicans on Capitol Hill have supported for several years. But this year, it was seen as an unwelcome reminder to voters eight weeks before Election Day that some Republicans in Congress hope to pass national abortion restrictions if given the chance.

McDaniel instead encouraged Republicans to attack abortion by highlighting Democrats’ resistance to any limits, a position she argued does not resonate with most voters. And while Republican leaders and candidates are making that argument more and more when asked, the party still has plenty of resources to devote to the one issue that most voters hear from GOP candidates: a screens.

Meanwhile, Democrats released a new wave of abortion-related ads targeting Republican candidates across North Carolina, New Mexico, Minnesota, Arizona, Colorado and Florida. Abortion is also a regular topic for state legislative candidates in competitive districts in California and Florida. Republican House candidates are under attack over abortion rights in congressional districts in New York, Connecticut, Michigan and Indiana.

In some cases, Republican candidates are being bombarded with multiple abortion-related ads running simultaneously on their local television stations.

One of them is Wisconsin’s Republican candidate for governor, Tim Michels, who has been the target of abortion-related attack ads from three groups so far this month, including his opponent, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. All three ad campaigns show Michels declaring that he opposes abortion rights even in cases of rape or genital mutilation.

“Is that the radical separatist you want as your governor?” asks the narrator in one ad produced by the Evers campaign.

The Michels campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

It’s much the same in Nevada, where Senator Catherine Cortez Masto is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the nation. This month, at least two anti-Republican groups and Cortez Masto’s own campaign have been running abortion-related ads against GOP challenger Adam Laxalt.

A doctor was featured in Cortez Masto’s campaign saying that Republicans are trying to interfere with women’s health care decisions.

“For doctors like me, our job is to make sure they have the support they need to make decisions that are right for them. But Adam Laxalt disagrees,” says the doctor on one ad.

In an op-ed last month, Laxalt tried to push back against the flood of anti-abortion advertising.

“Cortez Masto and her allies are spending millions of dollars on campaign ads trying to … falsely believe that as a United States senator I would support a federal ban on abortion, or that I am ‘anti-woman’ somehow because I value life, I support and protect at every step,” he wrote. “All my adult life, I’ve been of the opinion that the Supreme Court should return the issue of abortion to the people and let them decide the issue on a state-by-state basis.”

Nevada’s Senate race has focused heavily on abortion so far, but other elections have seen much more abortion-related advertising.

AdImpact data shows that the most aired TV ads this year referencing abortion occurred in the Pennsylvania and Arizona Senate races, followed by the gubernatorial contests for Illinois, Georgia and Wisconsin. (Some of the biggest ads also appeared in the now-hit Kansas constitutional amendment ballot measure, albeit a unique election.)

Georgia’s Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams, ran an ad campaign for much of August through September attacking Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, using the words of several women speaking directly to the camera.

“It supports a total ban, even if I am a rape victim, a victim of genital mutilation,” the women say. Another woman almost cries when she says, “Under Kemp, I could be investigated and jailed for having a miscarriage.”

Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell pushed back against the accuracy of the ads, charging that “Stacey Abrams and her campaign are trying to scare people and draw voters away from her dangerous agenda for Georgia.”

Democrats in some swing states are leaning strongly against some prominent Republicans against abortion exceptions in cases of rape, circumcision or the mother’s life is at risk.

Cliff Schecter, a veteran Democratic ad maker and founder of Blue Amp Strategies, said Democrats are doing a “much better message on abortion” this year.

“It’s not just liberal women now, or even moderate women. Conservative women are horrified by this,” Schecter said of the new abortion restrictions being implemented across the country. “It would be wrong not to target him.”

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People reported from New York.

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