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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Why isn’t Obamacare more popular? Because advertising works

Steve Benen: Even the most ardent proponents of the Affordable Care Act would balk at describing the law as “popular.” It’s just not. The individual provisions within the law enjoy broad public support, but much of the public still doesn’t know exactly what’s in the health care law, and many continue to have negative impressions of the overall package.

But there’s no great mystery as to why Americans are reluctant to hold the breakthrough domestic policy milestone in high regard: they’ve been told not to like it.

Seven months before the core provisions of President Obama’s health care law are to take effect, most television advertising that mentions the law continues to come from its opponents.

Since the law’s passage in March 2010, critics have spent a total of about $400 million on television ads that refer to it, according to a new analysis by the Campaign Media Analysis Group at Kantar Media, which tracks such spending. Supporters have spent less than a quarter of that — about $75 million — on ads that cast the law in a positive light, according to the analysis.
For those keeping score, that means the law’s opponents — various Republican committees, Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, etc. — have outspent its proponents by a greater than five-to-one margin.

With a public-relations imbalance like that, it’s hardly a surprise that the public remains skeptical.
It’s a strange position to be in to have to spend money fighting a battle you’ve already won, which explains the aforementioned public-relations imbalance. Obamacare is the law of the land and the idea that  it will be repealed is a fantasy.

But Republicans have nothing positive to run on — mostly because the party no longer stands for anything. They’re a set of post-policy reactionaries who are defined only by what they’re against — which means they must keep up the attacks on Obamacare, as futile as they are, in order to create the appearance of having some sort of policy to run on — even if that policy is merely being against a policy.

Benen quotes Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum: “Dems need to be promoting Obamacare with the same fervor Republicans bring to the attack, pointing out its benefits and upsides at every opportunity. So far I haven’t seen this — or even anything even close to this — and I suppose that might only be due to the fact that 2014 is still a ways off. But it better start happening soon.” Fortunately, “soon” is now. The president is heading to California to boost his reforms, congressional dems plan to put it front and center and paint Republicans as wanting to repeal popular provisions of the law, and “the DCCC is even confident enough to launch robocalls slamming 10 House Republicans for voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”

The advertising dollar cuts both ways.

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