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Post-Election Analyses Defy Reality

Friday, February 1, 2013

By Chris W. Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director

It's no secret how the 2012 election turned out. There was no cause for celebration when Barack Obama won re-election. There were no champagne corks popping at the NRA when the results of key Senate races started coming in. But Election Day was not the Second Amendment disaster that gun-ban groups desperately want the public to believe it was. 

The anti-rights ringleaders have waited four long years for an opportunity to advance their agenda. Largely ignored by leaders of both political parties in the recent past, they’re trying to make 2012 the year they regain political relevancy. So it was no surprise that within days of the election, they and their media allies were trumpeting a Sunlight Foundation “study” that claimed a low “return on investment” for your NRA in the 2012 elections. 

The study got its facts plain wrong, claiming that the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) financially supported certain candidates in the general election whom we simply did not. More importantly, the study used a fundamentally flawed analysis, based purely on the percentages that were spent on winning candidates versus those who were defeated. According to its measurement, a group that wasted all of its money backing sure winners would have done a great job, while a group that was really in the arena—putting resources into highly contested and competitive races, winning some and losing others—would come up as a failure. (Ironically, by the study’s standards, the Brady Campaign’s “return on investment” is a flat zero—because the once-dominant gun-ban group in America did not spend money backing a single winning candidate in the 2012 elections.)

I know I’d rather lead the group that was in the arena, doing exactly what we did—investing heavily in races where there was a clear choice between a good candidate and a bad one, and a viable chance that our efforts could make a difference. Spending our money any other way would have been an insult to our members, a poor strategic use of our members’ generous donations and would not have served the cause of defending the Second Amendment. We stand by our decision to spend every penny exactly where it was spent, and we applaud every NRA member and gun owner who turned out to the polls on November 6 to support pro-gun candidates and ballot measures.

Looking beyond the gun-ban groups’ and media’s wishful thinking, no one is disputing that the result of the presidential contest was a loss for Second Amendment supporters. But NRA-ILA’s 2012 election effort still turned out pro-gun voters in significant numbers, making the difference in several down-ballot races and ballot measures. 

Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard singled out the NRA’s work as having “put together a massive GOTV [get out the vote] effort focused on swing voters in key states” which “averaged 1.8 million phone calls per day.” We hired 25 Campaign Field Representatives (CFRs) in 13 battleground states. In the races in which our CFRs were deployed, we were victorious 70 percent of the time.

Nine of NRA-PVF’s 20 endorsed U.S. Senate candidates won their races. Of the 270 candidates endorsed by the NRA-PVF for the U.S. House, 225 were victorious, for a win rate of 83 percent. Of the nine gubernatorial candidates endorsed by the NRA-PVF, five were victorious: in North Dakota, Indiana, Utah, Vermont and West Virginia.

Here’s the bottom line: Prior to November 6, our country had an anti-gun president, a pro-gun U.S. Senate majority, and a pro-gun U.S. House majority. Today, America still has an anti-gun president, pro-gun U.S. Senate majority and pro-gun U.S. House majority.

As Ronald Reagan once famously said, “Status Quo is, you know, Latin for the mess we’re in.”  

The next four years promise to be quite a mess. Just one day after the election, as we warned would happen, the Obama administration moved forward with its plans to support a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. And on Capitol Hill, anti-gun politicians are already working to draft new legislation to ban millions of commonly owned guns, complete with draconian new restrictions and penalties that go far beyond the Clinton gun ban of 1994. 

But one other thing was left unchanged by this election: the steely resolve of NRA members to protect our fundamental rights. We will need to call upon this inner strength often to survive the battles that lie ahead. 

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.