The majority of ads aired by Republicans this year? They're on the attack.
by Fredreka Schouten and Aaron Kessler, CNN
Republicans pushed negative messages in nearly six out of 10 of their recent television ads, unleashing sharp and often intensely personal attacks on Democrats as the party scrambles to retain its House majority, a CNN analysis shows.
The analysis, which examined broadcast television advertising month-by-month, shows a sharp rise in the negative ads as the midterms drew closer, jumping from 43% of Republican ads in July to 53% in August and 59% in September once the general-election season kicked into high gear.
The stakes are high, particularly in the House, where Democrats need to win just 23 GOP-held seats to seize the majority. Democrats are competing fiercely in districts across the map. For their part, Republicans are contending with President Donald Trump's low approval ratings in some key districts and the weight of history: A first-term president's party typically loses ground in midterm elections.
Leading the way in attack ads for the GOP: The Congressional Leadership Fund, a deep-pocketed super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin.
The group, also known as CLF, was responsible for nearly one-fifth of the roughly 101,000 negative congressional ads Republicans aired in September, according to the CNN examination of data from Kantar's Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising. The review counts the number of times a commercial aired, not the number of unique ads unveiled by candidates or groups.
"Negative" ads, as determined by Kantar, are spots that paint a candidate in an unflattering light. Ads that attack an opponent but don't mention the candidate being supported are typically classified as negative.
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