Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It’s all fiction: NRA has no effectual control over elections

ThinkProgress has done a very comprehensive study on the effects of the National Rifle Assn. (NRA) on political elections in relation to money contributed to candidates and the organization’s influence on the outcome of the elections.  It reads like a political novel (only true) that exposes the bad guys for just what they are.  Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor at The American Prospect, and author of the study said: “The NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections.”

In Part 1 of the study, he continues, “The NRA endorsement, so coveted by so many politicians, is almost meaningless. Nor does the money the organization spends have any demonstrable impact on the outcome of races. In short, when it comes to elections, the NRA is a paper tiger.”  The NRA didn’t deliver Congress to the GOP in 1994 or the White House to George W. Bush in 2000.  As a matter of fact, gun ownership has been steadily declining In the U.S. for decades.

In the above, the NRA took full credit for both election issues and has repeatedly denied the deteriorating interest in guns.

Yet Republicans and Democrats alike back off in horror when asked to confront the NRA on gun control.  This lack of gun lobby influence includes independent expenditure (IE) campaigns where they could spend much more than averages for House and Senate races, which are $2,500 and $5,000 respectively.  The IEs amount to less than $10,000 in the House and around $30,000 for the Senate.  IEs are for/against campaigns with no direct connection to the candidate.

As an example, “In the last four elections, the NRA spent over $100,000 on an IE in 22 separate Senate races. The group’s favored candidate won 10 times, and lost 12 times.”  But it’s probably the “wins” that the knuckleheads in Congress concentrate on.

My take is that, regardless of the complete ineffectiveness of its support, the NRA spreads around its money across the board to those in Congress just so they can engage in bullying tactics to keep Senators and Representatives in line.  This gang of gun thugs, from the NRA’s head wacko Wayne LaPierre right down to its dwindling membership, could not function, even exist, these days without their fear-mongering tactics.

Watch a not-too-accurate video on NRA lobbying:

In the second part of this series, Paul Waldman endeavors to illustrate just how overrated the coveted NRA endorsement is.  He achieves stunning success.  Most think that with this affirmation, candidates have clear sailing through what they perceive as the NRA’s grassroots organizational scheming.  Waldman proves that the NRA’s stamp of approval is “largely a myth.”  What you have to understand is that NRA endorsements are given as reward for cooperation.

90 percent of GOP House incumbents got the endorsement in 2004, 91 percent in 2006, 96 percent in 2008, and 97 percent in 2010.  In many cases they are incumbents likely to win without the NRA, some who ran in their races unopposed.  86 percent of NRA House endorsements went to incumbents in the last four elections.  In other words, here is the payoff for doing what we told you to do, take a perpetual stand against gun control legislation. 

Waldman did a regression analysis using data from all House races where there was a margin of victory of 20 points or above, that measured the “what ifs” and holding constant the factors influencing the outcome.  The latter applied to an NRA endorsement associated with more positive results for the endorsee.  Here are the results:

  • Republican incumbents in contested races get no statistically significant advantage from getting the NRA’s endorsement; they do no better than those who are not endorsed.

  • Democratic incumbents who are endorsed by the NRA get no statistically significant advantage from being endorsed.

  • Republican candidates in open seat races get no statistically significant advantage from an NRA endorsement (the group endorsed only a few Democrats in open seat races, too few for meaningful statistical analysis).

NRA caught with their pants down

In fairness, there is one group that will receive a small boost: “Republican challengers who get endorsed when they run against Democratic incumbents do about 2 percentage points better than similar candidates who don’t get the endorsement.”  But only 5 percent of the NRA’s endorsements go to Republican challengers.  Waldman makes another conclusion that, “…in all but a tiny number of races, the NRA endorsement is essentially meaningless.

To back that up, the author offers; in 2004, all of the 4 NRA-endorsed challengers lost to their Democratic opponents, as did all 4 NRA-endorsed challengers in 2006. In 2008, 11 out of the 12 NRA-endorsed challengers lost.  In 2010, only 18 of 36 challengers won.  According to Waldman:

“That means that based on this analysis, in the last four federal elections, in which the NRA made a total of 1038 endorsements in House races, the group could claim credit for a grand total of 4 wins.”

Still, both Republicans and Democrats fight fiercely for the NRA’s support, convinced that they could not win without the gun lobby.  And wacko Wayne goes right along with the whole charade gloating over the fact that he has most of Congress in his back pocket.  If the Aurora, Colo. movies massacre doesn’t help to remedy some of this out-of-control lobbying, we might as well just wipe the books clean of all gun laws and allow guns everywhere, anytime, anybody.

I think not!

Part 2, including the 3rd and 4th studies next.

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