Anti-Obamacare Ads: Big Money Spent Where Uninsured Live

Monday, 02 Dec 2013 05:53 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Nearly $9.4 million has been spent on anti-Obamacare commercials aimed at parts of the country where the most uninsured people live — with Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveland, Ohio; and the District of Columbia leading the list, a spending analysis shows.

The outlay represents the vast majority of an estimated $9.7 million spent on TV ads critical of the federal healthcare law this year, the Kantar Media Intelligence/CMAG map showed.

The largest chunk of change went for ad spending in areas where between 15 and 30 percent of the population is uninsured, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Charlotte, with $710,860; Cleveland, with $703,140; and the District of Columbia, with $627,330, were the three media markets attracting the most anti-Obamacare ad dollars, the map showed.

The percentage of uninsured residents is above 15 percent in all three areas, the Post reported.

The Post also noted states with competitive statewide electoral campaigns also attracted big money, with North Carolina, Kentucky, and Arkansas — where 2014 Senate races are scheduled — at or near the top of the list.

Races in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly beat Virginia's Republican attorney general Ken Cuccinelli for governor, and Mobile, Ala., where GOP establishment-backed Bradley Byrne beat a tea party-supported Don Young in a congressional primary, also drew big-money ads. Obamacare was a big issue in both campaigns.

The advertising push has been boosted by the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

For example, in late October, a pre-election wave of anti-Obamacare ads included a Halloween-themed video with scenes from horror movies and a headline: "What Do You Fear?"

The spot, put out by Heritage Action for America, shows clips of conservative lawmakers and news commentators criticizing the healthcare law and its rollout, with a narrator asking, "What if your worst fears were real?"

Other conservative groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, are running ads targeting Senate Democrats who have backed Obamacare, come from largely conservative states and are up for re-election in November 2014.

"The ads are laser-beam focused on Obamacare," Tim Phillips, president of AFP, told Reuters in October, shortly after AFP announced it would spend $2.1 million for three weeks of television ads against Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana — Democrats up for re-election in conservative states in 2014.

According to the Kantar Media map, Lafayette, La., attracted $178,910 in ad spending, while New Orleans attracted $140,570 in spending.

"Our goal is very simple: Make sure that, first, the issue of Obamacare remains front and center moving forward for the long term," Phillips said. "And secondly, we want to hold those senators accountable for being decisive on Obamacare."

Reuters contributed to this report.

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