The No. 1 Issue in Election Ads Isn’t Inflation, Abortion or Joe Biden

The No. 1 Issue in Election Ads Isn’t Inflation, Abortion or Joe Biden


Take a guess: What issue has featured most prominently in political campaign ads in congressional races since Labor Day? No, it’s not abortion or inflation or President Joe Biden. The answer, according to a Washington Post analysis of data from AdImpact, which tracks television and digital ad spending, is taxation.

Republicans have spent $89 million airing 164,000 ads on the tax issue, making it the top subject for the GOP. Candidates across the country have frequently pushed alarmist and misleading claims that an $80 billion funding boost for the Internal Revenue Service provided by Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act will result in an army of 87,000 auditors targeting middle-class Americans.

Democrats, meanwhile, have spent $26 million for some 71,000 ads on taxation, bringing the total across both parties to $115 million — and a whopping 235,000 ads. The totals for both spending and the number of ads are the highest among all election issues.

Republicans have also spent $63 million on ads about Biden, more than $50 million on ads focused on inflation and nearly as much on ads about crime, according to the data.

On the other side, the abortion rights issue has dominated Democratic ads. Democrats have spent $103 million on nearly 200,000 ad airings on the subject, which has been at the core of the party’s pitch to voters since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade on June. (Republicans, by contrast, have spent just $4 million on ads about abortion.) Health care, Medicare and Social Security have also drawn significant Democratic ad dollars, but no issue comes close to abortion in terms of overall Democratic spending.

Democrats have focused far less than Republicans on inflation and have spent just $10 million on ads about the issue.

Read more about election ad spending at The Washington Post.