Sunday, April 13, 2014

Behind the Ad: The benefits of ObamaCare

By Richard K. Barry

Who: Put Alaska First PAC (a pro-Democatic super-PAC)

Where: Alaska (state-wide)

What's going on: This is an Alaskan super-PAC backing Democratic Sen. Mark Begich's reelection bid. The ad does what, I suspect, many Democrats are going to have to get comfortable doing, and that is touting the benefits of ObamaCare. As we hear, Lisa Keller is a cancer survivor born and raised in Alaska who was unable to get health coverage until Obamacare became law.
“I was lucky, I beat cancer but the insurance companies still denied me health insurance just because of a pre-existing condition," Keller says in the ad. "I now have health insurance again because of Mark Begich. Because he fought the insurance companies, so that we no longer have to."

So far, many Democrats in closer races have stayed away from talking about ObamaCare or have pointed to their efforts to improve it.  Others have argued that its time to talk about what health care reform has and will do for Americans.

Interestingly, this ad mentions neither ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act by name, so baby steps first, I suppose, but good that it's happening.

To say the very least, Sen. Begich is very vulnerable in his bid for reelection. Alaska is a red state, and Begich only got 48 percent of the vote in 2008 when President Obama was busy carrying so many Democrats to victory. And 2014 is a midterm, when so many Dems have tanked in the past. Having said that, Begich has mostly run away from Obama over the years and is clearly hoping that Alaskans have noticed.  Polling done in March has the race between Begich and any credible GOP candidates as close enough so we don't really know what is going to happen here. 

Grade: As an ad, it's simple and to the point. We can argue that the approach may not work for Begich, but it presents the message the campaign is going with right now. In political communication, there are two things to considers: The first is, will it work for the candidate? The second is, does it do effectively what it sets out to do? It's difficult to separate the two considerations, but it's an important analytical distinction. Based on the second of the two considerations, it's a pretty good piece. B


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