Democrats seeking to win their party's nomination have used their ads to talk overwhelmingly about two issues: health care in America and the Iraq war. With over 14,985 ads aired and almost $8 million dollars spent by the candidates and their supporting groups, more than one-third (5,119) of the ads -- at a estimated cost of $3 million -- have talked about health care. On the issue of Iraq, the numbers are almost identical 5,401 airings at a value of $2.9 million.
Not surprisingly, the candidates that have the majority of their messages on health care are front runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Health care has been the focal point of all four of Clinton's TV ads thus far. And while health care has been the primary focus on only one spot, it's been mentioned in several others.
The Iraq war has been at the center of a number of ads from the Edwards, Richardson, Dodd, Biden and Obama campaigns. Each campaign has used almost 50% or more of their airings to focus attention on ending the war. The Clinton campaign has so far only made mention of ending the war in one line of one ad. To contrast this message strategy, Joe Biden has used some very powerful images of soldiers' coffins and tough talk in his ads. Bill Richardson has used entire ads to show images of troops in combat and talk about the sacrifices being made by National Guard families in his home state of New Mexico and the early caucus state of Iowa.
The next tier of issues used in campaign ads are those related to energy and global warming. Ads with these messages accounts for almost $2 million in combined ad spending by the Democratic contenders. The majority of these ads have been run by Chris Dodd and Richardson.
The one surprise in our analysis was that only a handful of ads mention George W. Bush by name. In fact, just over 1,000 airings at a cost of less than $500,000 have invoked the President by name. I am pretty sure that this stat is about to change.
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Evan Tracey is the founder and chief operating officer of Campaign Media Analysis Group, a TNS Media Intelligence company. See his complete bio.