Democrats, Republicans target differing policy in midterm election ads

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  • Republicans lead on the growing issues of the economy and inflation.
  • Democrats are focusing on abortion rights and improving health care costs.
  • While the economy and abortion remain top issues among voters, inflation is edging out abortion.

With the midterm elections less than a month away, a new USA TODAY analysis of political ad data shows Republicans dominating on issues of the economy and immigration while Democratic candidates are doubling down on abortion and health care.

In October, Republicans out-messaged Democrats roughly 2-to-1 on the economy while Democrats have 8 times as much messaging on abortion as the GOP, according to USA TODAY’s analysis of AdImpact data. 

Democrats are also outperforming Republicans on messaging on health care and COVID-19 by a factor of nearly 3, the analysis revealed. 

AdImpact tracks political ads on broadcast television for congressional, gubernatorial, mayoral and state legislative races. The analysis used a list of words for each issue supplied by USA TODAY to calculate the monthly share of ads mentioning each topic as a proportion of all ads.

The data reflects a trend among the GOP and its candidates, who have shifted messaging to focus on inflation and rising costs of living as Democrats work to drive the issue of abortion rights with voters throughout the election season, appealing to their voter bases.

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