Sometimes it seems like Democrats and Republicans aren’t even speaking the same language. But when it comes to online advertising, there are some surprising similarities between the big topics for both parties.
The topic mentioned most often in Democratic ads on Google, according to an Atlantic analysis, is health care—which lags well down among the Republican topics. But the next two leading Democratic subjects are economic issues and President Donald Trump, similar to the Republican results. The figures are derived from an analysis of Google’s “Transparency Report,” which collects advertisements run on Google Ad Services, the largest online advertising platform. The numbers cover any actor who has spent at least $500 on ads, including candidate campaigns, party political-action committees, and independent advocacy groups.
The Democratic focus on health care, at roughly a quarter of ads run, is not surprising. As Annie Lowrey reports, the party has found health care to be a potent issue in the midterm elections, pointing to numerous Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Notably, a significant share of the ads about health care focus on preexisting conditions, a reference to Obamacare’s most popular provision. Despite their claims to the contrary, Republicans have sought to eliminate the measure, which guarantees that people with preexisting conditions can obtain insurance.
The next two issues, the economy and Trump, are a little more unexpected. Although Democrats are quick to note that economic gains are not widely distributed, most standard indicators point to a strong economy, from stock-market gains to job growth to wage increases. Traditionally, a strong economy favors the party that controls Congress and the White House. But Republicans have struggled to turn that good fortune into an effective messaging tool, and Democrats are running on the issue as well.