China Becoming Popular Midterm Campaign Ad Topic The Temple of Heaven during the Labour Day holidays in Beijing on Friday. (Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 02 May 2022 10:07 AM
While inflation, higher gas prices, and Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine have been the focus for many voters in recent weeks, another issue has emerged as a popular topic heading into the midterms — China.
The Wall Street Journal reported that criticism of China has become a popular topic in congressional campaign ads, especially in Rust Belt states where voters are feeling the effects of losing manufacturing jobs to Asia and elsewhere.
Television ads mentioning China are running most heavily in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin — states where primaries are approaching.
A WSJ analysis of broadcast-TV and national cable data from the ad-tracking firm AdImpact showed that about 1 in 9 ads aired this year in all House and Senate races have mentioned China.
More than 80% of ads mentioning China were sponsored by Republicans or conservative-leaning groups.
"China is a symbol of how a lot of people perceive Ohio economically, especially the manufacturing sector," former Gov. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, who used China in 2016 ads for an unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid, told WSJ. "I do think it has a lot of power."
A WSJ poll in March found that nearly 75% of voters said China was the U.S.'s largest economic threat, and 52% said Beijing was the biggest security threat.
China-related ads have run most frequently in Ohio and Pennsylvania, states with contentious U.S. Senate GOP primaries.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, endorsed by former President Donald Trump in the Pennsylvania Senate race, has aired more than 8,300 spots that have mentioned China.
One Oz ad running in five Pennsylvania media markets calls leading opponent David McCormick, the former chief executive of hedge-fund giant Bridgewater Associates, "pro-China."
During a debate last week, McCormick claimed he had "done business around the world in 20 countries, including 2% of our business in China."
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, seeking his party's nomination for Senate, has mentioned China 3,417 times in campaign ads. That's second only to Oz.
"It is us versus China," Ryan says in a recent ad. "America can never be dependent on communist China."
The AAPI Victory Fund, a super political-action committee that aims to mobilize Asian-American and Pacific Islander voters, rebuked Ryan for the ad.
The group, in a statement, described the spot as "rife with sinophobic rhetoric" and called for an end to such language, WSJ reported.
Exit polls in the 2018 midterms showed that Democrats won roughly 7 in 10 Asian-American votes.
Asian-Americans are the nation's fastest-growing racial or ethnic group, WSJ reported. U.S. Census data showed that Chinese Americans were the largest segment of the Asian population in the U.S. and represented more than 5 million people.