Politicians catered to Mainers’ concern about health care in TV ads from August to October, a study by the Wesleyan Media Project found. This Feb. 2018 photo shows Mainers for Health Care rallying outside the State House prior to Gov. Paul LePage's State of the State address in Augusta, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Health care led the issues discussed on television advertising by Maine politicians running for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, a report by the Wesleyan Media Project released late Monday found.

In Maine, 79 percent of the 19,847 ads run in October on broadcast TV and national networks and cable channels focused on health care, including the Affordable Care Act and health reform.

The issue topped the list in August with 94 percent of the 3,287 total ads and in September with 73 percent of the 8,892 ads.

Wesleyan based its analysis on data from Kantar Media/CMAG. The report did not break down the state ads by candidates or by the branch of Congress for which they were running.

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Taxes ranked second in issues mentioned in ads in Maine by the candidates running for federal office.

They were mentioned in 41 percent of ads in August, 29 percent in September and 42 percent in October.

Jobs came in third with no mentions in ads in August. Jobs were mentioned in 25 percent of the ads in September and 24 percent in October.

The fourth category the study examined was immigration but it received little coverage, with none in August and September and only mentions in 2 percent of the ads in October.

Nationally, health care was the most mentioned issue in ads for House and Senate races in all states in October, up 41 percent from September.

Health care was mentioned more in pro-Democratic advertising, appearing in 57 percent of airings in October compared to 32 percent of pro-Republican airings. It was an increase over September, when health care was featured in 50 percent and 28 percent, respectively, of the ads.

Republicans were slightly more likely to talk about taxation, which appeared in 35 percent of their ad airings, than about health care. The tax number also is up from September’s 32 percent.

Some 18 percent of pro-Republican ads discussed immigration compared to 5 percent of pro-Democratic ad airings.

Figures for November are not yet available.

However, Kim Lee, vice president and general manager for CBS-affiliate WABI in Bangor, said ads have been increasing recently with tight races in the state and nationally.

“Ad inventory was booked up earlier than in previous elections,” she said.

Lori Valigra, investigative reporter for the environment, holds an M.S. in journalism from Boston University. She was a Knight journalism fellow at M.I.T. and has extensive international reporting experience...