The interest groups who invested millions in gripping television ads to sway lawmakers to support or oppose health care reform seem to have gotten the message their money can be better spent elsewhere.
Analysts who track political advertising told TPMDC the spending has dramatically decreased since Scott Brown won a special Senate election in Massachusetts to become the 41st Republican vote.
One month ago, interest groups on both sides of the health care debate spent more than $1 million per day on television ads, with more than 390,000 ads airing in all of 2009 through today. Now, that spending has dropped off to just “barely” $1 million per week, said Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis group.
Tracey said there was $210 million spent on health care ads in all of 2009 through January. Most of that was in the summer and fall of 2009, and only $12 million was spent in January.The ads that remain on the air are just a trickle nationally – with a handful of AARP and Conservatives for Patients Rights commercials airing during national cable shows – and the in-state spending targeting specific senators and representatives has dried up, Tracey said.
“This is definitely a big drop. Everybody is catching their breath at the very least,” he said.
In one example on the pro-reform side, Americans United for Change has refocused from health care to a new push for financial regulatory reform. AUC billed their new ad as “the opening shot from those of us looking to clean up the mud on Wall Street by pushing for financial reform to protect working families and small businesses.”
As I reported a few weeks ago when the White House said it wanted to allow a cooling off period, anti-reform groups such as America’s Health Insurance Plans were waiting to see whether Congress would pivot to other issues.
Meanwhile, the ads opposing cap-and-trade or urging the Senate to pass the House climate change bill have been on the rise.
For his part, President Obama insisted today at a town hall in New Hampshire that health care is now “in the red zone,” adding, “We’ve got to punch it through.”
“It’s not over, we just have to make sure that we move methodically and that the American people understand exactly what’s in the bill,” he said.