The latest blow to the media myth that the National Rifle Association has the ability to determine election results is a Politico article reporting the result of a bipartisan poll that showed voters trusted Obama more than Romney on the issue of guns in North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado.
The NRA spent nearly $12 million dollars on an "All In" campaign to remove Obama from office, but was unable to deliver. Voters in Virginia trusted President Obama more than Mitt Romney on guns by a 9 point margin, and in Colorado and North Carolina by four and one point margins. Despite massive ad buys, less than 27 percent of voters in the three states polled recalled seeing the NRA's campaign material.
Politico quoted Mayors Against Illegal Guns director Mark Glaze reacting to the poll, which his organization paid for, as evidence that “the NRA has built a mythology around their ability to swing elections that has little basis in fact.”
“Members of Congress will tell you privately that they agree we need stronger gun laws, but they run scared from the perceived power of the gun lobby,” said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “There is a growing pile of evidence the NRA has built a mythology around their ability to swing elections that has little basis in fact.”
Voters that did hear from the NRA were not necessarily swayed to back its preferred candidates. In Virginia, where the NRA spent at least $700,000 backing Republican George Allen, voters who recalled NRA campaign material said by a four-point margin that it made them more favorable towards Allen's opponent, former Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. Kaine defeated Allen by a five point margin.
After Obama expressed support for a new assault weapons ban during the second presidential debate, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action promoted a FoxNews.com article that claimed Obama's debate answer “caught fire with gun owners” and “could come back to haunt him with a key voter group -- gun owners.” This speculative article fit well with the false media narrative that the NRA would use any discussion of gun policy to punish Obama at the polls.
But despite media insistence that the NRA could “reliably deliver votes” against any candidates who talked about gun violence prevention, the NRA's base proved unable to swing elections. It was also no surprise that most Romney voters cited the economy, and not opposition to Obama's position on guns, as the most important issue in the 2012 presidential election.
In wake of an election where the NRA had little to show after spending $18 million dollars on federal elections -- including $12 million dollars against Obama alone -- and backed the losing candidate in six out of seven Senate races where it spent at least $100,000 dollars, the media began to take note.
Articles from The Hill ( “Report: NRA shoots blanks this election” ), The Washington Post ( “National Rifle Association shut out on Election Day” ), San Francisco Chronicle ( “NRA spent $17 million on election, lost” ), and Salon ( “NRA also lost big on Election Day” ) all highlighted the NRA's dismal election results. All the NRA could do was lash out at journalists, claiming victory largely on the success of a handful of state ballot initiatives to protect hunters' rights that faced no real opposition. Before the election, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told readers of the NRA's America's 1st Freedom magazine that “Either we defeat Barack Obama ... or we lose this election and lose it all.”