Over at Bloomberg Heidi Przybyla crunched the numbers and found the frequency of anti-Obamacare campaign ads is down noticeably from a few months ago in key Senate races like North Carolina, Arkansas and Louisiana. From Bloomberg:
In April, anti-Obamacare advertising dwarfed all other spots in North Carolina. It accounted for 3,061, or 54 percent, of the 5,704 top five issue ads in North Carolina, according to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group. By July, the numbers had reversed, with anti-Obamacare ads accounting for 971, or 27 percent, of the top issue ads, and the budget, government spending, jobs and unemployment accounting for 2,608, or 72 percent, of such ads, CMAG data show.
“It is a recognition that there’s more going on in this state and also nationally than just frustration over Obamacare,” said Jordan Shaw, Tillis’s campaign manager. “We have never had an approach to make this campaign all about the Affordable Care Act. You can’t have a conversation about Obamacare without talking about its impact on the economy.”
Some liberal commentaries have taken this as proof the Affordable Care Act has lost its damaging political power. This is one possible conclusion. Even though the law remains as unpopular as always, once something exists and there is no chance it will go away soon people tend to reluctantly accept the new status quo. At this point reluctant acceptance would be a political “victory” for Democrats.
On the other hand, it is still far too early to know if this is a trend or a temporary lull. It is possible that anti-Obamacare ads have decreased for now only because there currently isn’t a good news peg for them, but they may still come back. For example, as we get closer to the election and start approaching the enrollment period and the release of the new premium increases.
It is also possible the GOP concluded that since most people have already formed an opinion about the ACA there is little value in talking more about it at this moment, but they could focus on it heavily right before the election to drive base turnout. We may still see anti-Obamacare ads again dominate the airwaves.