Midterm election ads: Democrats focus on health care, Republicans talk taxes

As the midterm elections approach, both Democratic and Republican candidates have spent a ton of cash to make sure you know their party’s stances on popular issues — and where their opponents’ perspectives line up as well.

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Compared with the 2014 midterm elections, spending on broadcast television advertisements is up nearly 30 percent to $2.7 billion, according to Kantar Media. Cable spending is expected to increase 70 percent to $1 billion.

But Democrats and Republicans are spending those ad dollars advocating very different policy platforms.

Health care

Nearly half of all Democratic ads mentioned health care in ads from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, according to Kantar/CMAG data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal, amid rising prices and unsuccessful attempts by the majority party to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

About 21 percent of Republican ads mention health care, down starkly from 2014, when 44 percent of Republican candidates brought the issue up as candidates sought to challenge ObamaCare.


The Trump administration has touted its overhaul of the U.S. tax code as one of its signature achievements – and the president said he wants to reduce tax rates by another 10 percent for middle-class Americans.

About 30 percent of Republican ads referenced taxes, but just 12 percent reference the new tax law.

On the flip side, 13 percent of Democratic ads mentioned taxes. Many members of the party have criticized the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as only benefiting the country’s wealthiest residents and businesses.


While the president continuously points out gains made in both the stock market and the job market as signs of success under his tenure, the issue is less popular among candidates seeking to win, or keep, a seat in Congress.

Nearly 84 percent of ads make no mention of jobs or the economy, The Journal reported. About 17 percent of Republicans and 15 percent of Democrats mentioned the topic.

One reason for the notable lack of mentions regarding this topic could be that throughout history a strong economy has not served to influence voters for or against a party in the same way that a weak one does.

Other issues

Republicans concentrated on a number of other issues, including pro-Trump messages – which showed up more than any other issues aside from taxes and health care. Immigration was the next most-referenced platform, followed by the budget and government spending.

While health care far outweighed every issue for Democrats, jobs and unemployment were the next most popular topics, followed by taxes and Medicare.