Media Messaging about the Affordable Care Act During Political Upheaval

Awarded Scholars:
Erika Franklin Fowler, Wesleyan University
Sarah E. Gollust, University of Minnesota
Project Date:
Apr 2019
Award Amount:

In the 2018 midterm elections, concerns around health care—including pre-existing condition protections, prescription drug prices, women’s health care, and even single-payer health care proposals—were central to voter mobilization efforts. These issues played a prominent role in many House, Senate and gubernatorial races, and health care-related measures were on the ballot in several states. Recent patterns in political behavior suggest that there may have been a shift in voter priorities, with some analysts estimating that health care dominated Congressional campaign ads, outpacing such issues as jobs, taxes and immigration.

Political scientists Erika Fowler and Sarah Gollust will study the role of campaign and insurance messaging around health care policy to further our understanding of the political implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They will examine how insurance companies and political actors make decisions about whom to target, with what content, and with what level of factual accuracy. They will also analyze the extent to which messaging is a function of market-level demographics, the competitiveness of a political race, or sponsor-level factors, and will look at how messaging about the ACA has changed over time.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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