Political Correction

Nearly Half Of Crossroads' 22,000 Ads Target — And Lie About — Health Care Reform

October 20, 2010 4:11 pm ET - by Alan Pyke

Last week, Political Correction reported that the Chamber of Commerce's attack ads are almost entirely aimed at health care reform. Since then, the Washington Post's Greg Sargent has pointed out the pervasive dishonesty of these ads, and the sad reality that discussions about the Chamber's funding are crowding out an equally-important conversation about the content of the ads. The truth — about health care reform, the Recovery Act, and clean energy bills that never became law — is getting lost in the noise about 501(c)s and Super PACs.

Part of the reason for that is these organizations are able to create an incredible volume of noise, and spread the din out over a huge swathe of the country. According to ad data reviewed by Political Correction, the "shadow RNC" (American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS) aired 22,127 ads between August 1 and October 17. The ads cover 11 states, and they are not quite so one-note as the Chamber's attacks.

Combined, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have cracked the 1,000-ad mark in 8 states:

1.  CO (4,801)

2.  MO (4,268)

3.  NV (3,228)

4.  KY (3,057)

5.  IL (1,662)

6.  OH (1,361)

7.  FL (1,267)

8.  PA (1,142)

9.  WA (847)

10.  CA (445)

11.  IN (49)

The subject matter of the ads is also telling. Out of 22,000 ads, the Crossroads groups have gone after clean energy legislation in 1,264 (just 6 percent of the total). By contrast, nearly half (10,351) of the ads attack the Affordable Care Act. Of the 10,000 health care ads, 84 percent include the long-disproven claims about "Medicare cuts" and a government "takeover" of the health care industry. That's 8,697 ads that lie about health care since August began.

So far, Crossroads has engaged in fewer races and made a wider variety of attacks than the Chamber. That's because the Crossroads groups have directed their fire at Senate races and used attacks on Democrats' resumes, where the Chamber has engaged in more races and leaned more heavily on health care lies.

Get ready for that to change, though. The "shadow RNC" is getting into the battle for the House in a big way:

Two independent GOP groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, formed by Republican strategists Karl Rove and Edward Gillespie - planned to kick off a $50 million "House surge" with $2 million in ad buys in the districts of six incumbent Democrats who previously had enjoyed a fundraising advantage over their Republican opponents.

The surge ultimately will target dozens of House Democratic incumbents in an attempt to thin out the party's resources.

The more fights Crossroads picks, the more repetitive their ads are likely to become. Expect the proportion of health care ads to jump quickly. But don't expect the truth; that's not why these groups exist.

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