Democrat Barack Obama has spent $113 million in health care television advertising so far this year, eight times that of Republican rival John McCain — an investment that polls show are paying big dividends as the election enters its closing weeks.
Obama has devoted 68 percent of his total TV advertising this year to ads that include health care themes, and McCain has devoted 13 percent. That includes both primary and general election spending, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group that tracks and analyzes campaign advertising and provided Politico with its tally through mid-October.
In October, McCain spent 1.5 percent of his TV ads on health care, while Obama upped the ante to 86 percent of his total budget.
Obama’s health care messaging dwarfs McCain’s. So far this year, Obama has aired almost 192,000 commercials that mention health care as a priority, while McCain has run 11,300.
Obama has made 117 different ads. McCain has released 10, four of which have run in October. Obama, by contrast, released 18 ads in October. Already this month, Obama has spent $48.5 million on health care ads, and McCain has spent $261,000.
The enormous spending done in House and Senate races has almost certainly amplified the presidential candidates’ health care messages. So far this year, these congressional contests have seen 975 ads and more than $275 million spent on health care ads, almost $80 million of it in October alone, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group.
And that doesn’t include the significant investment made by outside groups working to raise the issue’s profile and shape the public discussion in advance of next year’s expected health care reform debate in Congress. Consumer groups, insurance companies, doctors and all sorts of other health care organizations have invested heavily in advertising this year.
Still, no matter what each candidate proposes on the campaign trail, many insiders agree it won’t necessarily translate into a mandate for their plans come January.
“The notion of a sweeping political mandate is still very much up for grabs. How much wind is at the back of Democrats on Election Day will go a long way towards determining the pace and scope of health reform in the 111th Congress,” said Republican health care consultant Phil Blando. “Once we enter this policy phase after the elections, all stakeholders will have a fresh opportunity to make their case.”
I'd beg to differ with that last assertion.
The numbers are simply astounding. The fact that 86% of Obama's ad spending makes it unmistakeble: This election is about health care, and Barack Obama is behind real reform to the tune of $113 million.
We couldn't agree more. Sitting at the nexus of inequality, economic stability, job growth, and human rights is health care. It's an issue that touches every domestic priority. And, by highlighting it in the election, both on the air and in debates, Barack Obama is building himself a mandate for reform, should he win.
Not that any President will be able to do this alone. It will be our job to hold him accountable. I, for one, am looking forward to that task.