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The C.A.S.H. Courier

ARTICLE from the Fall 2008 Issue

Obama Victory Vastly Reduced NRA Influence

By Peter Muller

The Obama campaign and victory has had a decisively negative effect on the NRA’s political influence and that of its affiliate organizations. The NRA actually consists of three separately incorporated entities:

1) The “NRA Foundation” is an educational 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization.

2) The NRA-ILA, the “NRA Institute for Legislative Action” is a lobbying organization.

3) The NRA-PVF – the “NRA-Political Victory Fund” is a PAC, a Political Action Committee.

When we use the term “NRA” in this article we are referring to the NRA-ILA and/or the NRA-PVF, rather than the educational branch of the NRA, which imparts its brand of wisdom to the public, and to organizations such as the Boy-Scouts and 4-H clubs. Keep in mind that all of this “education” is funded by tax-deductible donations, and, therefore, demands scrutiny. We will take a look at that in the next issue of the C.A.S.H. Courier.

On the NRA’s website (http://www.nraila.org/) they say the 2008 elections are over, and America has spoken. While many of the results were not what we had hoped for, this year’s election does show how NRA members have truly changed politics in America.

Across the country, from the presidential race, to the U.S. Senate and House, to state legislative races, one thing was missing this year: ads proudly proclaiming the candidates’ anti-gun credentials.

Clearly, the NRA is boasting, claiming a victory because candidates did not explicitly take an anti-gun stance in their campaigns. C.A.S.H. looked at how this really played out in the most recent six presidential campaigns and the hotly contested Democratic Primary of 2008.

What is apparent from the chart is that taking an explicit position against Gun Control is no assurance of winning – far from it. In the above six contests, all losers took an explicit position against gun control. The lesson for future presidential candidates should be clear: Do not take an anti-gun control position – the NRA can’t deliver its votes to you and never has been able to do so!

Nevertheless, the NRA claimed successes. They wrote:

In the 2004 elections, more NRA resources were deployed in more critical battles than ever before. Millions of dollars were spent on direct campaign donations, independent campaign expenditures, and on mobilizing the most aggressive grassroots operation in NRA history. There were 6.5 million endorsement cards and letters sent, 2.4 million endorsement phone calls, 1.6 million bumper stickers, nearly 50,000 television, radio and newspaper ads and 510 billboards.

In 2004, NRA-PVF was involved in 265 campaigns for the U.S. House and Senate, winning in 254 of those races. These victories represent the reelection of pro-gun majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate.

NRA-PVF endorsed thousands of candidates running in state legislative races and achieved an 86% success rate in those elections.

Looking closely, almost all of the NRA’s endorsements are of incumbents who, generally speaking, win almost all local contests regardless of endorsements. The NRA’s endorsement help cannot, therefore, be ascertained.

For example, in the 2008 election for the 29 congressional seats in New York State, the NRA made five endorsements. All but four of the 29 incumbents ran again for their seats. Of the 25 incumbents who ran for their seats 24 won their seats for another term. The only incumbent to lose was Randy Kuhl of the 27th District who was one of the five candidates endorsed by the NRA.

In the 26th District the incumbent did not run but the candidate from the same party as the incumbent (Republican) won the seat in a district that is heavily Republican. He also had the NRA endorsement – but it’s hard to see how that helped since the district usually votes for the Republican candidate.

The other three candidates endorsed by the NRA were among the 24 incumbents who ran and won their seats back.

What did the NRA endorsement do? Most likely nothing and it may have cost Representative Kuhl his seat.

To see if the endorsements can be said to have made a difference anywhere we will do a follow-up article when the Boards of Elections have posted their results. At the present time, many outcomes have not been posted.

C.A.S.H. will look at the NRA endorsements and the success-rate of 1) all incumbents 2) incumbents with NRA endorsements and 3) non-incumbents with NRA endorsements.

Barak Obama has consistently assured people he would not break into their homes and seize their rifles; he also consistently proposed reasonable controls on sales of firearms and ammunition. Yet, if you apply for a job in the Obama administration, you will have to fill out a probing 63-question questionnaire, and declare all of your foibles that may become a future embarrassment to the administration.

We took clear note of question 59: (59) Do you or any members of your immediate family own a gun? If so, provide complete ownership and registration information. Has the registration ever lapsed? Please also describe how and by whom it is used and whether it has been the cause of any personal injuries or property damage.

President-elect Obama’s concern about gun-ownership is there — right along with such questions as “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” and “Were you ever caught trying to pick up 14 year-olds on the Internet?”

As most people have already surmised, we are entering a new era where the putative political NRA influence is gone. Legislators will be able to judge issues on their merits and the needs and wants of their constituents. The self-proclaimed electoral power of the NRA has been shown to be a sham.
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Peter Muller is a Vice President of C.A.S.H. and President of LOHV – the League of Humane Voters

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