Democrats eager to pounce on suddenly vulnerable Republicans are launching a two-week digital ad blitz targeting 10 GOP members of Congress who voted last week to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Among those whose constituents will see 15-second video ads when they search Google or YouTube for information about their lawmaker’s vote are GOP Reps. Kevin Yoder of Kansas, Carlos Curbelo of Florida and Jeff Denham and David Valadao of California.
The five-figure ad buy is the latest in an aggressive campaign by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that started immediately after the House barely passed the American Health Care Act on Thursday. The push includes graphics on Instagram and Facebook and radio ads.
The new video ads warn voters the Republican bill will make “coverage completely unaffordable to people with pre-existing conditions” and “more expensive for people ages 50 to 64.” Then the narrator says, “And House Republicans voted yes.”
Republicans have insisted Obamacare was a disaster, and the GOP plan is a step in the right direction. The National Republican Congressional Committee has aired its own ads celebrating their party’s success in passing the healthcare bill as a “promise made, promise kept.” The NRCC is running an ad in Yoder’s district but would not say where else the ads are running.
“Democrats can continue running on Obamacare, but they'll continue being rejected by voters crying out for relief from Obamacare's crushing effects,” said NRCC Spokesman Jack Pandol in an email.
Republicans say their bill would provide billions of dollars to cover people with pre-existing conditions through high-risk pools and they point out that older plan members are being charged more because they have higher medical costs than younger, healthier people. Obamacare allows insurers to charge older people three times more than younger individuals. The Republican bill would allow them to charge older people fivetimes more.
The Cook Political Report, a non-partisan newsletter that analyzes elections and campaigns, moved Yoder’s reelection chances and those of 18 other House Republicans into more competitive categories after the healthcare vote, noting that the representatives took an “unequivocal political risk” in voting for the GOP bill. Three of the 10 districts have been targeted by the DCCC’s latest ads, seats now held by Martha McSally of Arizona, Jason Lewis of Minnesota and Yoder.
Kansas’ second district, which will be an open seat when Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins retires next year, also went from solid Republican to leans Republican in the Cook analysis.
A poll in March showed that just 17 percent of the public supported an earlier version of the GOP healthcare plan, so DCCC officials are hoping Republicans in swing districts across the country will pay for supporting the bill when voters head to the polls next year.
“The passage of this repeal and ripoff bill was a defining moment for every single House Republican,” said DCCC Spokesman Tyler Law in a statement.
“Our early investments reflect the huge opportunity for Democrats to maximize gains on an expanding midterm battlefield,” Law said.
Some House Republicans already have endured protests at home and outrage on social media in the days since the vote. In Yoder’s suburban Kansas City district, protesters opposed the bill and others who supported it faced off outside his offices last weekend.
“Congressman Yoder is focused on health care policy here and isn’t worried about political implications,” his office said in a statement.
From a campaign perspective, Democrats are happy that Republicans such as Yoder voted yes on the healthcare bill because they can weaponize it in ads and fundraising appeals, said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan newsletter at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
But it’s too early to say whether healthcare will be the top issue for voters a year and a half from now on Election Day, he said.
“We just don’t really know,” Kondik said. “There’s all sorts of stuff that could happen between now and next fall that could change the focus of the election.”