Memo To Democrats: It’s The Health Care, Stupid
The survey of voters in major battleground states conducted by Priorities USA and Data for Progress found all three of the most persuasive messages hyping Democratic achievements dealt with the health care provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, showing the continued potency of health care affordability even as politicians and the public grapple with inflation, crime and other issues.
In a memo set to be published Wednesday, Priorities USA says the most popular achievements of President Joe Biden’s tenure are giving Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices, capping the price of insulin and continuing expanded subsidies for the Affordable Care Act.
Priorities USA recommends focusing on these issues while also attacking Republicans for working to restrict abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“The thing that unifies all of this is the access and affordability of health care, and how Democrats are trying to expand those things and Republicans are trying to take them away,” said Nick Ahamed, the group’s deputy executive director.
But the group also warns the party needs to do more to make voters aware of the health care accomplishments. While the party’s successes on prescription drugs were well-known, less than half of all voters knew about the continued subsidies for the Affordable Care Act.
And Democrats are not necessarily getting the message out, either. Priorities USA, which tracks digital ad spending closely, found the party spent $2.4 million on Facebook, Google and Snapchat ads related to the Inflation Reduction Act between mid-July and Aug. 25. Of that, only 16% was focused on the law’s health care provisions, while 47% discussed economic issues and 23% discussed the law’s provisions to fight climate change.
Priorities USA, which was set up to boost President Barack Obama’s reelection bid in 2012, was a major backer of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in the 2020 race. The group, which can collect and spend unlimited sums as long as it does not directly coordinate with campaigns, now focuses on digital advertising, funding lawsuits to fight voter suppression and helping Democrats fine-tune their message.
Health care affordability was a major Democratic message in the 2018 midterms, when the party picked up control of the House in the wake of the GOP’s failed attempts to repeal Obamacare. The party continued to focus on the issue in 2020 — with mixed results leading some to suggest they overplayed their hand.
Working with Data for Progress, the group surveyed 1,800 likely voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin from Aug. 18 to 22.
They tested messages looking at 25 different Democratic accomplishments, with the passage of the PACT Act to help veterans clocking as the fourth-most persuasive and the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law the fifth-most persuasive.
In the memo, the group argues recent Democratic legislative successes and the GOP’s hard-line positions against abortion rights have reshaped the midterms and set up Democrats to defy some historical precedents, which generally indicate the party in power suffers significant electoral losses in the midterms.
“Priorities has consistently found over the last two years that a strong contrast between Democrats keeping their policy promises and Republicans’ blatant extremism would move battleground electorates to the left,” the memo reads. “Recent events have made these existing realities crystal clear to voters. These are not the midterms that many strategists thought they would be six months ago, Democrats increasingly have momentum on their side.”