When you analyze the impact of conservative and single-issue membership organizations on the 2010 midterm elections, you find that one group’s efforts dwarfed the rest: The National Rifle Association of America.
The NRA spent $20 million on behalf of its candidates — nearly five times more than the combined effort of all other such groups.
In fact, the amount of money the NRA spent to defeat Democrat John Spratt in South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District was more than all the other Second Amendment groups combined.
The group is now well-positioned to protect gun owners’ rights at the state and federal level for the next 10 years.
As of this writing, there are 17 new Republican faces in governors’ offices, 14 of whom received an A rating from the NRA on Second Amendment issues, and two of whom received a B rating.
The most important of these might be Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a state which might now join the 40 other states that allow their citizens to carry a firearm for personal protection.
It also means that 116 electoral votes that went for President Barack Obama in 2008, will now be hotly contested in 2012.
In the U.S. Senate, seven of the new Republicans are A-rated by the NRA, and one of them has a solid B+ rating. In addition, not a single incumbent senator with an A rating from the NRA lost election. This too would indicate a political tide returning.
Considering there are 100 seats in the Senate, it will take two more election cycles for the tide to completely turn. In addition, only two NRA A-rated senators could be considered at risk in 2012, while 10 Senators with NRA ratings of F, D and C will likely have contentious re-elections.
The immediate return on the NRA’s investment in these Senate races is the potential filibuster of any anti-Second Amendment Supreme Court nominees in the mold of Justices Sotomayor and Kagan. This is critical because the Supreme Court is just one justice away from an anti-Second Amendment majority.
For the first time in NRA history, every single new Republican congressman (which looks to be a total of 88 members as of this writing) received an A rating from the NRA. Even more impressive, this includes 68 newly elected A-rated Republicans who defeated opponents with F, D, and C ratings from the NRA.
In addition, 12 of the House seats that were too close to call on election night will likely be redistricted in the GOP’s favor — and each of these districts had NRA A-rated Republicans running in this past election.
Republican victories in so many U.S. House, Senate, and gubernatorial races benefited the down-ballot races in state legislatures nationwide.
The previous high-water mark for the election of NRA A-rated candidates at the state House and Senate levels was slightly less than 500 total seats in 1994.
Incredibly this election saw the GOP take nearly 700 state legislature seats from the Democrats, and close to 95 percent of these new legislators received an A rating from the NRA and were supported by the organization.
In addition, a very large number of F-, D-, and C-rated incumbents were defeated. This was due in large part to the NRA’s massive and finely tuned grass-roots effort in every hotly contested state and district.
There were 19 state House and Senate chambers, many of which were hostile to Americans’ Second Amendment rights, have now flipped to GOP control. And more importantly for the NRA, a majority of the legislators in these chambers received an A rating.
The NRA made the right decision to spend $20 million on this election, and the NRA’s chief lobbyist Chris Cox was wise to allocate additional staff resources nationwide. The result was a sweeping victory that few could have predicted.
It’s also worth noting that the crystal balls of Larry Sabato, The Associated Press and CNN predicted state legislative gains for Republicans equal to the roughly 500 they received in 1994.
Only The O’Leary Report predicted a higher number of state legislative seat gains (623 to be exact) for the Republicans back in its August/September issue.
However, these nearly 800 freshman legislators at the federal and state level will be the most vulnerable targets in 2012.
The anti-gun movement and big liberal donors on the left will pour more money than ever before into the 2012 contest, hoping to stop the tide from shifting by beating as many of these 800 freshmen as they can before they become entrenched.
If the NRA is to sustain and build on its pro-Second Amendment coalition, it will need to replicate the impressive political and fundraising effort it made in 2010 and maybe even top it.
Brad O'Leary is a veteran political consultant, publisher of The O'Leary Report, best-selling author, and former NBC Westwood One talk-show host. To see more, go to OLearyReport.com
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