The news of the turmoil at the NRA has been met with excitement by left-leaning voters. Why? Well, one of the reasons is that the NRA is a powerful force for Republicans in elections, and their chaos might be our gain.
You’ve no doubt seen graphics showing how much money various Republican Senators and Representatives get from the NRA (they circulate after every mass shooting), and while those donations are important, they don’t tell the full picture of how and why the NRA is so powerful.
Here’s a good example: Between 1998 and 2017, the NRA spent 10x more on outside spending than they did on individual candidates’ campaigns. That’s right: The NRA spent so much more money on TV and internet ads attacking politicians who have voted for, or expressed support for, any kind of gun restriction.
The NRA also spends a ton of money getting out the vote. Politicians don’t just fear losing the NRA’s money. They fear being targeted by the NRA with attack ads, they fear not getting an NRA endorsement during the primaries, and they fear the NRA not working to get out the vote in their district or state. (For a great article on the different ways the NRA influences elections, read The real reason the NRA’s money matters in elections, by Vox.)
So, back to the news of the day, I was more than thrilled today to see this headline in the Washington Times, which has strong right-leaning editorial views: Republicans expect to lose vital NRA muscle in 2020 as turmoil grips the gun lobby. The article quotes Steven Law, a close confidant of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the chief strategist behind the Kentucky Republican’s affiliated super PAC, Senate Leadership Fund:
“We would love to have company. But we’re preparing to shoulder as much of the work in 2020 as possible.”
That said, I would be neglecting my duty if I didn’t close this article by saying there should be no headline, no quote, and no poll that dissuades you from registering and turning out voters for elections. We can’t just try to squeak out a win; we need to work to win by a landslide, because that may be what it takes.
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