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 of 353 AMPAC supported candidates won election/reelection and the cadre of physicians in Congress held steady at 20. AMPAC’s total win rate in the 2012 cycle was an impressive 94%.
United States Senate
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
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.
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.