Washington DC – According to the non-partisan Wesleyan Media Project, in the last two weeks of October, 30 percent of ads focused on health care for Democratic Senate candidates — more than any other issue. Earlier in October, more than 35 percent of Democratic Senate ads focused on health care. Similarly, in races for the U.S. House, four out of ten pro-Democratic ads in the last two weeks of October talked about health care, and 25 percent mentioned health care earlier in October. Combined, health care and prescription drugs top the list of issues in Democratic House campaign ads in the final weeks of the election cycle.
Polling has shown that health care was the most popular provision in the Inflation Reduction Act and the most important policy achievement of the Democratic Congress. It was also a key part of President Biden’s campaign messaging.
Health was once again decisive in Democratic victories and Republican defeats. In 2018, it was the Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act and end protections for pre-existing conditions. In 2020, it was Republicans’ abject failure in protecting America from COVID. In 2022, it was Republicans raising health care costs; both House and Senate Republican candidates ran on hiking insurance premiums and drug prices by promising to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act.
Throughout the campaign, Democrats showed how they’re delivering lower health insurance costs and lower prescription drug prices. Meanwhile, Republicans virtually ignored pocketbook issues like health care and prescription drugs in their advertising. The contrast was even more stark in the final week. According to an analysis of ads by the Winning Jobs Narrative Project, Democrats aired 200,000 more spots on pocketbook issues than Republicans. In GOP ads, “Republicans barely mentioned pocketbook issues like jobs, health care, social security and prescription drugs.”
“Health care wins elections for Democrats and loses elections for Republicans. No matter whether you are a Democrat, independent or Republican voter, you care about health care,” said Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach. “Health care is the GOP’s achilles heel. In election after election, Republicans have been on the side of making health care and drugs more expensive and each time, they have paid the price.”
The historical average since 1934 was for Democrats to lose four seats in the Senate. This year, they will hold or expand the majority. Per the Wesleyan Media Project, “in the last two weeks [of October], nearly a third (30 percent) of ads by or on behalf of Democratic Senate candidates have talked about health care.” Earlier in October, more than 35 percent of Democratic ads focused on health care.
The historical average since 1934 was for Democrats to lose 28 seats in the House, and more recent midterm trends suggest that they should have lost even more: Democrats lost 63 seats in 2010 and Republicans lost 40 seats in 2018. According to Wesleyan, “in races for the U.S. House, four out of ten pro-Democratic ads in the last two weeks [of October] have mentioned abortion while a similar number have mentioned health care. Nearly a quarter have mentioned prescription drugs.” Combined, health care and prescription drugs top the list of issues in Democratic House campaign ads throughout October.