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The 2020 Cycle AMPAC Election Report

A Note to AMPAC’s 2020 Contributors

Thank you for supporting the American Medical Association’s Political Action Committee, AMPAC. During this unprecedented global pandemic due to the Covid-19 virus, AMPAC is especially grateful for your commitment. Each year we work to achieve a strong, unified message for physicians in our nation’s capital by helping elect federal candidates who prioritize our members’ needs.

This election summary report illustrates how contributions to AMPAC facilitated our advocacy efforts, significantly impacting those who practice medicine and their patients. We recognize that without your help, these outcomes would not be possible. Thank you for your investment to AMPAC in this challenging year. We hope to count on your generosity again in 2021 as we continue working to advance the AMA’s advocacy agenda.

2020 AMPAC Political Activity

AMPAC’s 2020 political activities had a significant impact on U.S. House and Senate races around the country and helped advance medicine’s agenda with key incumbents and challengers who won their races. Input from state medical society PACs helped guide the AMPAC Board in strategic decisions on which candidates to support and at what level. In all, AMPAC invested nearly $2 million in the 2020 cycle. This included direct contributions to 271 physician-friendly House and Senate candidates from both political parties (56% to Democratic lawmakers and 44% to Republican lawmakers). From a broader perspective a total of 248 AMPAC supported candidates won election/reelection. The total number of physicians in Congress will hold at 17.

AMPAC also executed an independent expenditure campaign on behalf of Dr. Cameron Webb, an internist running his first campaign for Congress as the Democratic candidate in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District. While the seat leans Republican, AMPAC felt the race represented a true opportunity for medicine due to a few factors. First, the partisan makeup of the district has been trending less conservative recently. In September of this year AMPAC conducted polling in the district that revealed Trump leading Biden by just five points and strong support for Dr. Webb as well. Second, the more moderate incumbent in VA-5 lost in the GOP primary to a far-right candidate who advocated for many issues that were inconsistent with medicines views. And finally, Dr. Webb himself represented an excellent candidate who shared many of the AMA’s legislative goals as well as the AMA’s core values.

While Dr. Webb ultimately came up short, AMPAC is proud of its efforts on behalf of medicine. Amid a brutal negative campaign, AMPAC’s digital/social media-focused strategy filled a key gap for Dr. Webb by promoting his positive attributes as a candidate. This helped move the needle in the race as evidenced by increasingly tightening polls and national political experts like Charlie Cook moving the race from one that “leaned Republican” to a “toss up.” The high click through rates and video completion rates that AMPAC’s ads achieved far exceeded industry standards.

2020 U.S. House of Representatives Summary

Democrats held onto their majority in the U.S. House after securing the 218 seats needed to control the chamber. Republicans however narrowed their disadvantage by flipping at least ten seats. As of now, Democrats control the House 222 seats to Republicans’ 212 with one race yet to be called (NY-22). The results were certainly a disappointment to Democrats who felt the national mood and polling signaled gains for them and the potential of a political wave that would give them a clear mandate to advance their agenda. The GOP meanwhile was successful in injecting diversity into the conference as at least 40 members of the freshman class are women or minorities.

2020 U.S. Senate Summary

Control of the U.S. Senate remains up for grabs with the current count at 50 Republicans 48 Democrats. Both Republican senators in Georgia have been forced into runoff races against Democrats and these contests will ultimately determine who controls the upper chamber. With Joe Biden winning the presidency, Democrats would need to win both to wrest the Senate away from Republicans as Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be able to cast tie-breaking votes once in office. Similar to the situation with the House, Democrats had been hoping for bigger Senate gains. However, voters instead seemed to signal their preference for divided government which will make compromise and bipartisan reaching across the aisle vital in order to enact policies that will effectively deal with the current pandemic and get the country back on track.

AMPAC Fundraising and Participation

AMPAC raised a combined $1.76 million dollars in hard and corporate receipts during the 2020 election cycle, with hard dollars accounting for 92% of overall receipts. AMPAC’s hard dollar receipts are used directly for candidate contributions or independent expenditures. AMPAC’s major donor program, Capitol Club, played an instrumental role in overall fundraising efforts and was integral in preserving receipt totals this cycle. Due to the pandemic, many AMPAC contributors faced significant challenges with their ability to give. Thank you to those who were able to step up and contribute to AMPAC as well as those who gave generously at the higher levels. Capitol Club ended 2020 with 635 members, which was lower compared to previous cycles, but was expected given the current fundraising environment. Capitol Club members participate at one of the following levels: Capitol Club Platinum ($2,500 annually), Gold ($1,000 annually) or Silver ($500 annually). Additionally, AMPAC introduced a new level of giving for the 2020 Election Year, AMPAC’s Election Investor level where members contributed $220. This provided a new opportunity to engage in AMPAC’s election plan and garnered a successful 150 members participation.

One thing this pandemic has taught us is that political giving will not end. With the 2022 election cycle before us, your participation in AMPAC is more important than ever. We urge you to renew your commitment to AMPAC early so we can continue supporting and electing physician-friendly candidates to Congress. To join or find out more, please visit our website at www.ampaconline.org, or contact AMPAC’s Washington office at (202) 789-7400.

AMPAC Political Education Programs

2020 was another landmark election in terms of physician candidates with close to 70 physicians running for federal office at one point during the cycle. In January 2021, AMPAC will once again host the Campaign School to help AMA members become more effective advocates for medicine. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Campaign School will be held virtually January 15-17 and 23-24. The dates for the 2021 Candidate Workshop have not been announced but it will likely take place virtually in the spring. All AMPAC Political Education Programs are targeted to AMA members, their spouses, and state medical society staff. For in-person meetings, faculty, materials, and all meals during the programs are covered by AMPAC. Participants are responsible for the registration fee, hotel accommodations and travel to and from Washington, DC. For more information, please visit http://www.ampaconline.org/political-education/

Disclaimer

AMPAC is a separate segregated fund established by the AMA. Voluntary political contributions by individuals to AMPAC should be written on personal checks. Funds from corporations cannot be used for contributions and expenditures in Federal elections. Corporate contributions will be placed in a separate AMA account for political education and other non-election activities. Contributions are not limited to the suggested amount. Neither AMA nor its constituent state associations will favor or disadvantage anyone based upon the amounts of or failure to make PAC contributions. Voluntary political contributions are subject to limitations of the FEC regulations. Contributions to AMPAC are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.