US Insights

Kavanaugh and Republican Attacks Fuel Ad Spending

Ross Tucker

Executive Editor Kantar US Insights

Politics 10.11.2018 / 14:00

KavaMidterms

The Kavanaugh confirmation process triggered a wave of television ads.

As the country moves into the final month before the midterm elections, political advertising has already reached a fever pitch. Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG) tracks this activity, and is being utilized by media organizations to provide deeper insights into the election. Here is a roundup of recent news items that rely on CMAG:

Health & Taxes

Democrats have made health care a key issue in the midterms, while Republicans have focused their messaging on the tax cuts passed last year.

“In 2018, nearly 50% of Democratic ads mentioned health care. On the Republican side, just 21% of messages address the issue,” noted the Wall Street Journal in an Oct. 9 article that relied on CMAG data.

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Republicans are leaning into messaging on taxes despite some early signs that it wasn’t an issue that was resonating strongly with their voters.

“About 30% of Republican ads mentioned taxes, compared with about 13% of Democratic ads,” noted the WSJ. “But Republicans seem reluctant to talk explicitly about the tax legislation; just under 12% of all Republicans’ television ads mention it.”

The Fight for Kavanaugh

Brett Kavanaugh’s long and contentious confirmation process triggered a wave of television advertising. The Judicial Crisis Network had spent almost $12 million supporting Kavanaugh by October 3, according to an article from Bloomberg.

Other outside groups spent considerable amounts of money on advertising in Maine, where Republican Senator Susan Collins was considered to be a key vote in the confirmation.

“Since Ford’s allegations were first published in the Washington Post on Sept. 16 through Monday, outside groups have spent $653,060 in Maine, with some addressing the issue head on and others obliquely, according to data from Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks political advertising.”

Republicans on the Attack

Republicans have increasingly ramped up attack ads ahead of the midterm elections. In an Oct. 4 article, CNN found that 6 out of 10 Republican television ads fell into the category of negative, or attack, ads.

“The analysis, which examined broadcast television advertising month-by-month, shows a sharp rise in the negative ads as the midterms drew closer, jumping from 43% of Republican ads in July to 53% in August and 59% in September once the general-election season kicked into high gear.”

The Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC was a key player in the attack ads, “responsible for nearly one-fifth of the roughly 101,000 negative congressional ads Republicans aired in September, according to the CNN examination of data from Kantar's Campaign Media Analysis Group.”

Democrats are engaging in negative messaging at a far lower rate. CNN’s examination of CMAG data found that negative ads represented 36% of the spots that the Democratic party, Democratic candidates and outside groups ran in September.

Republicans Pull Back

Bloomberg has found that Republican groups are scaling back their support for candidates in several House races in order to help more competitive candidates.  

“For local, state and congressional races, that will amount to $2.65 billion for local broadcast television, $975 million for local cable TV and $800 million for Internet ads, according to estimates from Kantar Media’s CMAG, which tracks political advertising.”

Source: Kantar Media

Editor's Notes

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