Advertising Issue Spotlight (9/1/18 – 9/30/18)

(MIDDLETOWN, CT) October 4, 2018 – The Wesleyan Media Project is releasing its third post in a series of regularly updated overviews of issue mentions in federal races by state. Below we show the number of ads that aired in House and Senate races in each state from September 1, 2018, to September 30, 2018.
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Read our other Issue Spotlights:

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We break down the percentage of ads mentioning six key issues tracked by the WMP. Healthcare continues to dominate as the proportion of ad airings referencing the topic rose from 37 percent in August to 41 percent in September. Discussion of taxes takes second in the list, appearing in 20 percent of all ad airings in federal races, followed by jobs (13 percent) and immigration (9 percent).

Pro-Democratic airings continue to concentrate on healthcare, with one in every two mentioning the subject, and a fifth of those healthcare ads (10 percent of overall airings) explicitly defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and/or attack Republican health reform attempts.

Pro-Republican airings continue to split their time between taxes (32 percent, roughly a third of which tout the 2017 tax bill) and healthcare (28 percent), with immigration (17 percent) and jobs (15 percent) fading a bit to third and fourth in the set.

Note: this is not a comprehensive list of issues tracked or issues mentioned, and other topics may be discussed more frequently than those shown here. The “healthcare” column includes references to “ACA/health reform” efforts in addition to more general reference to healthcare. The “taxes” column includes references to “tax reform” in addition to more general references to taxation. Percentages across the four main issue columns (healthcare, jobs, taxes, and immigration) may total more than 100 percent because ads often feature more than one issue.

The WMP plans to release updates to this analysis throughout the fall campaign season.

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Table 1: Issues by State in Federal Races

StateAd
Airings
Healthcare*
%
ACA /
Health
Reform %
Jobs %Taxes* %Tax
Reform %
Immigration
%
* The "healthcare" column includes references to "ACA/health reform" and the "taxes" column includes references to "tax reform."
** Includes explicit references to the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare and/or references to how health care should be or has been reformed (including references to Republican legislative efforts).
† Total includes ads promoting candidates from other parties.
Figures are from September 1, 2018 - September 30, 2018. Numbers include broadcast television. States with zero federal airings during this period: DE, GA, HI, ID, VT, WY.
CITE SOURCE OF DATA AS: Kantar Media/CMAG with analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project.
Total†437,404418132099
Pro-Dem264,3895010111374
Pro-GOP171,22028415321217
AK1,2209505550
AL810000000
AR1,6013701441141
AZ23,082461251134
CA16,34344131112414
CO5,8053719426180
CT87332320000
DE0
FL36,807232112249
GA0
HI0
IA8,5764761930130
ID0
IL7,8586051231200
IN25,26948819181121
KS9,6982420431016
KY6,9385019322025
LA19500000
MA861310224529
MD635420100000
ME8,9827302529140
MI10,031511620331
MN17,158581021660
MO19,90748221113416
MS786005100100
MT26,05228188811
NC5426451331072
ND10,6353144509
NE4,323457838210
NH1,23638017262623
NJ7,14865541025
NM6,218300923021
NV17,3456720819115
NY21,35043131736193
OH11,023473102195
OK54479021000
OR18700000100
PA14,23633121332410
RI1,16858260000
SC871006606
SD402000000
TN21,2052698381211
TX24,257207711516
UT2,3122302358180
VA18,5912824223193
VT0
WA8,593728043142
WI16,638400131312
WV15,1875419298821
WY0
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About This Report

Data reported here from Kantar Media/CMAG do not cover local cable buys, only broadcast television, national network and national cable buys.

The Wesleyan Media Project (WMP) provides real-time tracking and analysis of political advertising in an effort to increase transparency in elections. Housed in Wesleyan’s Quantitative Analysis Center – part of the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life – the Wesleyan Media Project is the successor to the Wisconsin Advertising Project, which disbanded in 2009. It is directed by Erika Franklin Fowler, associate professor of government at Wesleyan University, Michael M. Franz, professor of government at Bowdoin College and Travis N. Ridout, professor of political science at Washington State University. WMP staff include Laura Baum (Project Manager), Dolly Haddad (Project Coordinator) and Matthew Motta (Research Associate).

The Wesleyan Media Project is supported by Wesleyan University and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Data are provided by Kantar Media/CMAG with analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project. WMP is partnering again this year with the Center for Responsive Politics, to provide added information on outside group disclosure.

Periodic releases of data will be posted on the project’s website and dispersed via Twitter @wesmediaproject. To be added to our email update list, click here.

For more information contact:
Lauren Rubenstein, lrubenstein@wesleyan.edu, (860) 685-3813

About Wesleyan University
Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Conn., is known for the excellence of its academic and co-curricular programs. With more than 2,900 undergraduates and 200 graduate students, Wesleyan is dedicated to providing a liberal arts education characterized by boldness, rigor and practical idealism. For more, visit wesleyan.edu.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation is a national foundation with strong local roots. We invest in journalism, in the arts, and in the success of cities where brothers John S. and James L. Knight once published newspapers. Our goal is to foster informed and engaged communities, which we believe are essential for a healthy democracy.

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