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Democrats spending big money on ads about abortion ahead of midterms

AdImpact said Democrats have spent more more than $31 million on ads attacking anti-abortion candidates

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Abortion rights protesters attend a rally outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich.

Abortion rights protesters attend a rally outside the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich., on June 24, 2022, following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Paul Sancya, Associated Press

Abortion and reproductive rights are turning into a hot issue in the midterm elections.

Democrats had spent nearly eight times as much on ads relating to the issue than Republicans had by mid-August, according to The New York Times. And that didn’t include advertising in Kansas, where voters recently rejected an amendment that would have removed abortion from rights protected under the state constitution.

The media tracking company AdImpact said that Republicans have spent $4.2 million on ads related to abortion, while Democrats have spent $31.9 million by mid-August.

“All across America, Democrats are using abortion as a powerful cudgel in their 2022 television campaigns, paying for an onslaught of ads in House, Senate and governor’s races that show how swiftly abortion politics have shifted since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June,” the article said.

The New York Times earlier reported that a “coalition of progressive organizations has settled on what its leaders hope will be a unified pitch from the left. This November, they plan to argue, Americans must vote to protect the fundamental freedoms that ‘Trump Republicans’ are trying to take away.”

Democrats believe the court decision has “radically reshaped the 2022 landscape in their favor,” the Times reported.

CBS News reported that “Democrats have spent about $30 million on more than 100 television ads specifically mentioning abortion since the draft document of the Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization leaked in early May.” 

The article added that “Democrats have also spent nearly $7 million on Facebook ads that including abortion in the text. Both party committees, super PACs and candidates have all been putting their money on abortion as an election issue.”

CBS also reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was planning a “six-figure ad buy targeting Latinos in battleground districts.” It also noted ads targeting Asian American, Pacific Islander and Black voters.

Abortion has been fodder for ads in Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Texas, Georgia, Nevada, Colorado and other states, with the goal to defeat candidates who support an abortion ban.

“Rarely has an issue been handed on a silver platter to Democrats that is so clear-cut,” Anna Greenberg, a Democratic pollster, told The New York Times. “It took an election that was going to be mostly about inflation and immigration and made it also about abortion.”

There’s risk to the strategy, since people are so concerned about inflation, experts say. Per the Times, “Republicans say Democrats risk ignoring the economic concerns that polls have shown are paramount.”

According to Fox News, “Democrats face historical headwinds, as the party that wins the White House and control of Congress traditionally suffers major setbacks in the House and Senate in the ensuing midterm elections. They’re also up against a very unfavorable political climate, fueled by record inflation and soaring crime, and symbolized by President Biden’s deeply negative approval ratings.”

The article cited a national survey done by Monmouth University just ahead of Kansas’ vote that found abortion and gun control were each ranked by those polled as the key election issue, at 17% each. The top issue, at 24%, was the economy.

Brian Walsh, described in the article as a veteran Republican strategist, told Fox News that “the key for Republican candidates, though, will be to keep their campaigns laser-focused on the economy and to not hand Democrats additional ammunition that might divert voter attention from kitchen table economic issues,” he added.

The Times quoted former Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, the man who was in charge of House Republican campaigns during the 2018 midterms, on the risk for Democrats of focusing almost exclusively on abortion: “They’ve got a lot of bad news, and they think that’s the only good news they’ve got. If they want to be a single-issue party, that’s on them.” He predicted Democrats could be “smoked” because of economic issues.