What TV ads in Tuesday’s election showed voters

Tens of millions of dollars have poured into television advertising in four states with big elections on Tuesday, a sign of the national implications of their outcomes.

Whether it’s state legislators in Virginia, constitutional amendments in Ohio, or gubernatorial candidates in Kentucky and Mississippi, the ads share several themes.

Threats to abortion rights have been highlighted in Democratic ads, even in states where the issue is not explicitly on the ballot. Since overturning Roe v. Wade last year, Democrats have found electoral success in galvanizing opposition to restrictive abortion laws.

Ads for Republican candidates, in turn, often link Democrats to President Biden’s record, as well as inflation, taxes and prevailing economic uncertainty. And if Republican candidates have been endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump, it’s a good bet he’ll appear in their ads.

In Ohio, voters will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” on Question 1, a ballot initiative that would guarantee the constitutional right to “make one’s own reproductive decisions” — effectively blocking the Republican-controlled legislature from passing a strict anti- abortion.

But confusion over the language of the initiative, including the abortion restrictions it would allow the state to impose, is fueled by misinformation and exaggeration on and off the airwaves.

One ad released by Protect Women Ohio — an anti-abortion group that has spent more than $6.7 million on advertising, according to AdImpact, a media monitoring firm — features the state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, and his wife, Fran, who says, “The No. 1 would allow abortion at any point during pregnancy and would deny parents the right to be involved in their daughters making the most important decision of her life.”

(The statement is incorrect — the amendment specifically allows the state to limit the procedure after the point of fetal viability, around 23 weeks, unless the patient’s doctor determines the procedure is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.)

Most of the “Vote No” ads speak to voter unease about late-term abortions, which data show are very rare and usually performed when doctors say the fetus won’t survive.

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, a coalition of abortion rights groups that supports the amendment, has spent $19.5 million on advertising since the start of September, an AdImpact analysis shows. The group’s ads, and “vote yes” ads in general, frame the issue as government interference in personal health decisions and in doctors’ ability to make life-saving decisions.

They also raise the alarm about young girls being forced to give birth to rapists’ children. U one ad, the man says: “The state is trying to ban abortion, even in cases of rape. When I hear that, all I can think is – what if that’s my daughter?”

All 140 seats in the Virginia General Assembly are up for election, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, is leading the effort to flip both houses to GOP control. The election will serve as a barometer of Mr. Youngkin’s popularity, gauge local sentiment about Mr. Biden and test whether abortion continues to mobilize voters.

In all, about $72 million, including money from national groups, was spent on advertising time in the state, with the dozen most competitive races taking up about $50 million in advertising.

Overall, Democrats argued that if Republicans prevail, Virginia would join other southern states in sharply restricting abortion rights, while Republican ads focused on tax cuts and job creation. Many of them feature Mr. Youngkin.

Some ads contained sustained attacks, with accusations of racism, socialism and Grift. But in the most tightly contested races, some candidates sought to find a middle ground — the Democrats citing their gun ownership, or the Republicans who say they want it protect women’s rights.

Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, and the committees supporting him spent $46.9 million on campaign advertising, according to an AdImpact analysis, far more than the $28.6 million spent to support his Republican opponent, Daniel Cameron , to the state prosecutor.

Almost all of that spending came from two entities — Mr. Beshear’s campaign and Defending Bluegrass Values, a committee backed by the Democratic Governors Association — that each spent more than $23 million.

The ads supporting Mr. Beshear focused on two main themes: bashing Republicans for their opposition to abortion rights and Dossier Mr. Beshear on infrastructure and economic growth. The ads steered clear of mentioning Mr. Biden, who has low approval ratings nationally, particularly in ultra-conservative Kentucky.

Mr Cameron’s campaign ads have painted popular mr. Beshear as an ally of Mr. Biden, who dabbles in the left side of crime, LGBTQ rights and schools. Advertisements supporting him, many affiliated with national organizations including the Republican Governors Association, are out in force highlighted Trump approval Cameron (which also includes digs at Mr. Biden).

In Mississippi, Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican who has been weakened by the great welfare scandal which includes well-connected GOP donors, also relied on the support of Mr. Trump.

That support is presented in advertisement painting Mr. Reeves’ Democratic opponent, Brandon Presley, as a puppet of “Joe Biden’s people.” (Second ad says Mr. Presley’s campaign money came from “liberal states.”)

The two parties spent a similar amount of money on ads — $8.5 million for Mr. Prislija, 9.5 million for Mr. Reeves.

Ads for Mr. Presley — Elvis Presley’s cousin, with the voice to prove it — have focused about his upbringing and relied on the argument that Mr. Reeves “doesn’t care about working people”.

Mr. Presley, who said he was “pro-life,” also said campaigned on Medicaid expansion to the state. Health care is a major focus of Democratic ads in Mississippi, where hospitals are facing an acute funding crisis.

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