Campaign

Science group reserves nearly $2M in airtime to boost Dems in three states

Greg Nash
Organizers conduct a photo op with the March for Science banner in front of the Capitol. 

A group focused on recruiting and training scientists to run for office is reserving nearly $2 million in TV ads in three states that house highly competitive House races in 2018.

314 Action, named after the first three digits of pi, reserved $1 million in broadcast TV ads in the Los Angeles media market, $500,000 in the Detroit media market and $350,000 in the Seattle media market.

Those ads won’t advocate for specific candidates, but the group has preferred Democratic candidates running in those areas. Democrats will be looking to make inroads in those three areas as they try to flip 24 seats to take back a majority in the House.

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314 Action endorsed Hans Keirstead, who’s running against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), and Suneel Gupta, who’s running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.). Both 314 Action-backed candidates have science backgrounds: Keirstead is a stem cell researcher and Gupta co-founded a health-care app.

The group hasn’t made an endorsement in the open-seat race to succeed Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), but 314 Action is keeping close tabs on that district since Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won it by 3 points in 2016. Pediatrician Kim Schrier is the leading fundraiser in the eight-person Democratic primary.

“What is clear from our research is that scientists will lead the way for Democrats to retake the House and Senate in 2018,” Joshua Morrow, executive director of 314 Action, said in a statement. “Today, 314 Action is demonstrating its commitment to electing scientists by making our first major investment of resources into areas where we think scientists have a clear shot at flipping seats in November.”

More people with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are deciding to run for office in 2018. Many say they are motivated to run as a way to push back against President Trump, who has signed an executive order to roll back former President Obama’s climate change agenda.

314 Action believes voters nationwide are enthusiastic to support a candidate for office with a STEM background — and the group says it has the polling to back it up.

A poll conducted by Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling found that nearly three-quarters of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate who has a scientific background.

Other findings from the poll include that 55 percent of respondents surveyed support overturning a ban on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducting research on gun violence.

And a little more than 70 percent of polled voters say they have serious or minor concerns about the Trump administration’s “attacks on science.” Fifty-one percent of Republicans polled share similar concerns.

The survey of 745 voters nationwide was conducted Feb. 15-16 via automated phone interviews and has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

Tags Dana Rohrabacher Dave Reichert Dave Trott Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

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