The 2012 election cycle presented some unique challenges for AMPAC and organized medicine. Congressional redistricting resulting from the 2010 Census created a number of incumbent vs. incumbent battles and new district dynamics for House races across the country. With the White House and U.S. Senate majority up for grabs, the partisan rancor intensified nationally and further contributed to one of the most contentious election seasons in history.
But despite these challenges, AMPAC played an important role for medicine in this election. Working together with state medical society PACs, AMPAC invested over $3.1 million in the 2012 cycle. This included more than $1.8 million to physician-friendly candidates for the U.S. House and Senate from both political parties.
A total 353 AMPAC supported candidates won election/reelection and the cadre of physicians held steady at 20. AMPAC’s total win rate in the 2012 cycle was an impressive 94%.
United States Senate
(33 Contested Seats)
Thirty-three U.S. Senate seats were up for election in 2012 – 10 were held by Republicans and 23 by Democrats. There were no special elections this cycle, but Republican Senator John Ensign resigned in 2011 and Republican Representative Dean Heller was appointed by the governor to fill the vacant seat. There were 11 open seats resulting from 10 retirements and the defeat of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (IN) in his primary election. Ten races were considered “toss-ups” heading into Election Day. Democrats won a total of 23 seats, Republicans won eight, and Independents won two seats. Women increased their presence in the Senate to an unprecedented level of 20 members and bring with them two firsts for the upper chamber: the first Asian-American female Senator and the first openly gay Senator. The make-up of the Senate in the 113th Congress will include 45 Republicans, 53 Democrats, and two Independents. Both Independents will caucus with Democrats, resulting in a net gain of 2 seats for Democrats over the previous Congress.
House of Representatives
(435 Contested Seats)
Republicans continue to control the U.S. House of Representatives despite failing to capture the White House or a majority in the U.S. Senate. This year’s cycle ushered in 80 new members of Congress, due in part to newly reapportioned congressional districts. The current make-up of the 113th Congress gives Republicans a majority with 234 seats to the Democrats 201. Despite this decisive majority, however, Speaker Boehner will have his work cut out for him uniting his conference in the next Congress, especially the Tea Party faction, who in the past has proved to be resistant to certain proposals.
AMPAC executed four independent expenditure campaigns totaling over $1.1 million on behalf of Representative Nan Hayworth (R, NY-18), Representative Joe Heck (R, NV-3), Challenger Ami Bera (D, CA-7), and open seat candidate Sayed Taj (D, MI-11). All four of these candidates are physicians whose races were among the most tightly contested in the country. AMPAC conducted highly targeted activities in each race that yielded over 750,000 pieces of mail, close to 200,000 “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) phone calls, and over 25 million views/impressions of geo-targeted online video and TV ads. These tactics were guided by polling done in advance in each district which helped identify key voting demographics where medicine’s message would carry greater impact, effectively micro-targeting AMPAC’s efforts. The strategy specifically focused on new media outlets online to communicate a positive, research-based message.
In the end, AMPAC’s hard work paid off. Heck and Bera both emerged victorious, while Hayworth and Taj mounted strong efforts but fell just short. In all four races, AMPAC activities played an important role, impacting critical voters at the margins in extremely contentious contests where literally every single vote was precious.
AMPAC sent more than 100,000 customized direct mail pieces in support of pro-medicine candidates (66 House candidates and 9 Senate candidates) in both parties. AMPAC worked closely with state medical societies to develop these campaigns, which inform AMA and state medical society members of the importance of participating in the political process. Partisan communications to physicians also help to demonstrate AMPAC’s support of key members of Congress.
AMPAC Political Education Programs
2012 was again a landmark election in terms of physician candidates, with 50 physicians running as challengers or in open seats for federal office at one point during the cycle. Of the physicians who ran, 10 attended AMPAC’s Political Education Programs. The 113th Congress will welcome two new physicians to the House of Representatives, and of the 20 physicians who will serve in the 113th Congress, 7 attended AMPAC’s Political Education Programs.
The 2012 Candidate Workshop and Campaign School saw nearly 60 physicians, residents, medical students and physician spouses learn what it takes to run for office or how to become more involved in political campaigns.
In 2013, AMPAC will once again host the Candidate Workshop and Campaign School to help AMA members become more effective advocates for medicine as both candidates and skilled campaign volunteers. The Candidate Workshop, to be held February 15-17, is ideal for those considering a run for public office. The Campaign School, to be held April 17-21, is an intensive hands-on seminar that trains participants as campaign experts. Both programs will be held in the Washington, DC area. Enrollment is open to AMA members, their spouses and immediate family members, and Federation staff. AMPAC, through its Political Education Fund, covers lodging, meals, tuition and course materials, a significant benefit to AMA members. For more information, visit http://www.ampaconline.org/political-education/
2014 Elections Preview
The 2014 election will be a mid-term election, and Democrats will no doubt look to prevent another loss like they faced in the 2010 mid-terms. The state of the economy will likely be an important factor in the election. Some experts predict economic growth over the next several years, which if true, may help the President’s party in the elections.
In the Senate, there are currently twenty Democrats and thirteen Republicans up for election in 2014. The situation is similar to the 2012 elections: more Democrats are up for re-election, with several hailing from states that lean Republican. Democrats managed to gain seats in 2012 despite this, but the party often has trouble with voter enthusiasm for mid-term elections. Retirements may yet play a role in 2014 as they did in 2012, with several senators not yet confirming that they will run again.
In the House, barring any major developments, there is not expected to be extreme movement of seats between parties. Redistricting prior to the 2012 election, largely controlled by Republican state legislatures, helped Republicans to outperform in House elections compared to the Senate or the Presidential races. While the mid-term enthusiasm gap could play a role in 2014, Democrats are similarly concentrated into more homogenous districts, making Republican pickups relatively more difficult.
AMPAC Fundraising and Participation
The 2012 election cycle was a successful one for AMPAC fundraising, seeing over $2.2 million dollars raised in 2011 and 2012. Importantly, money raised directly from individuals – “hard dollars” – was at one of its highest proportions ever. The importance of “hard dollars” is that they are the only funds that AMPAC can use for direct candidate contributions or independent expenditures.
2012 saw great participation in AMPAC at all levels of membership. For the 2012 membership year, AMPAC proudly introduced an additional membership level, Capitol Club Platinum, at $2,500 annually. Capitol Club participation was very strong, with nearly 750 individuals joining at the Capitol Club Platinum, Gold, or Silver level.
With the 2012 cycle just completed, membership in AMPAC is as important as ever as we prepare for the 2014 midterm elections. We strongly encourage you to renew your commitment to AMPAC so we can continue the necessary work of supporting and electing physician-friendly candidates to Congress.