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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Ahem…So Where Are the Pro-Obamacare Ads?

Dave Weigel addresses an important question in his Slate.com post “Obamacare’s Next Top Model: Why aren’t Democrats running ads showcasing the people who have been helped by Obamacare?
We’ve asked versions of this question before. But no one seems to have a good answer. Weigel notes a good pro-Obamacare ad that got a lot of plaudits, featuring a woman, Mary Francis Perkins, who praised the Affordable Care Act for allowing her to get coverage for her Parkinsin’s illness — coverage that was denied to her before the ACA.
Regrettably, however, the ad was an exception, explains Weigel, one buried in Tsunamis of ads designed to discredit the ACA — and elect Republicans. Weigel adds,

The Perkins video appears to be an outlier–the only ad in which Democrats defended the health care law by talking to someone who benefited from it. Steve Spencer, who shot the video, said it was easy to shoot but hard to find a taker for it.
“There are compelling stories out there,” says Spencer, “but who can afford to air enough ads to balance the Koch brothers?”
That’s the irony: Democrats perfected this strategy, and Republicans have turned it against them. Americans for Prosperity, founded and partially funded by David and Charles Koch, has found tremendous success with its sob-story ads. When Democrats or fact-checkers have complained about them, they’ve been accused of bullying “cancer patients,” and the search for victims has proceeded.

While the Republicans and their supporting front groups are highly-organized in seeking testimony for ACA-bashing ads, Dems and progressives are apparently leaving it up to individual campaigns to fend for themselves. It shouldn’t be all that hard, since a quick youtube search turns up lots of positive video testimony.
Weigel says, “Democrats need to find Obamacare success stories when few want to fund the work, during a midterm election when all the key races are on Republican turf, while the donors are already thinking about 2016.” Weigel quotes Democratic strategist Paul Begala:

“There simply is no liberal Koch operation…Rather than a national ad campaign, which is not realistic, Dems should look to smart 2014 candidates to engage this issue along [these] lines. Once someone does it, and it works, others will replicate in their states/districts. Do I think Dems should respond to the Koch ads? Absolutely. But it is going to be a piecemeal response.”

Some observers believe Alex Sink did a fair job of challenging her opponent’s Obamacare bashing, though it fell short. Clearly Republicans and their surrogates are going to increase their attacks against the ACA and Dems who voted for it in the months ahead. A more assertive ad strategy featuring positive testimony about the ACA, whether piecemeal or nation-wide, seems overdue.

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