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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is lending his voice to national radio ads by the Democratic National Committee, seeking to motivate African-American, female and other voters who tend to sit out midterm elections.
The first ads, aimed at African Americans, started running Monday and are part of a coast-to-coast buy worth more than $1 million. Future spots were set to target Hispanics, Asian Americans, younger and female voters — all constituencies that tend to be reliably Democratic voters, but who typically are infrequent voters in non-presidential campaigns. The radio campaign, the DNC's first this election year, was to run through Election Day, Nov. 4.
"I want an economy where your hard work pays off with higher wages, and higher incomes, and affordable health insurance and decent retirement benefits," Obama said in the first one-minute ads.
The ads are airing nationally during syndicated radio shows that are geared at black audiences, such as "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," ''The D.L. Hughley Show" and "Keepin' It Real With Rev. Al Sharpton."
The ads don't focus on specific candidates but remind voters who would likely vote Democratic that there is an election in November.
All 435 House seats and 36 in the Senate are on the ballot. Republicans are expected to retain control of the House and are within six seats of claiming the Senate majority. The president's party typically loses seats at this point in a second term. Midterm electorates tend to be smaller, older and whiter.
There are also 36 gubernatorial races this year.
"It's no secret that Democrats' challenge is expanding the vote this November and before with early voting, so these ads are geared toward many constituencies that have typically dropped off in midterm elections," said DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "From equal pay to affordable health care to immigration, the stakes in this election could not be higher — and we look forward to communicating that contrast over the coming weeks."
Democrats have a challenge, polls suggest.
An August Pew Research Center poll indicated 49 percent of registered voters say they've given much thought to this fall's elections. That's down from the 61 percent who said the same during the summer of 2012 when the presidential race was in full swing.
Another measure finds a drop in interest in the campaign from 2010, the last elections that lacked a White House race. The July Pew poll found that just one-third of voters were closely following this year's elections, down from nearly two-thirds following closely around the same time in 2010.
The DNC's messages are designed to motivate groups that helped Obama win two terms as president but whose enthusiasm wanes in off-year elections. The drop-off among these groups helped Republicans capture a majority in the House during 2010's elections and could threaten Senate Democrats' tenuous hold this year.
Even so, the number of minority voters has increased in recent years, in midterm elections and presidential races, according to census data.
The nationwide nature of syndicated programs helps boost Democrats up and down the ballot, from city council to gubernatorial candidates. It is in contrast to candidate-specific ads from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee or the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"President Obama will fight for us, but he can't do it alone. We have a responsibility to stand up for our community and vote November 4," a female narrator says in the DNC ads.
The narrator also says no Democratic president in history has faced the same "obstruction" from the GOP.
The Republican National Committee earlier this year signaled to candidates and allies that it would not be mounting a widespread advertising blitz. Instead, that advertising was expected to come from candidates, party campaign committees and well-funded outside groups such as Americans for Prosperity and Ending Spending Action Fund.
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