2012 Elections: Claims of NRA’s Demise Are Premature

Shortly after the 2012 election, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence published a press release titled “The Myth of the NRA's Influence Over Election Outcomes.” Brady claims that the NRA’s support doesn’t help candidates win. They conclude by asking: “How long will we allow this myth to hold our nation hostage?”

Speaking of mythical influences, some readers may find it curious to know that Brady didn’t issue endorsements this election, something they’d done previously. What does this say about their perception of their own influence?

In any case, further examination of NRA-endorsed candidates suggests that Brady may merely be envious.

In the House

After collating CNN election results with NRA’s candidate grades and endorsements, the 2013-2014 House will include 220 A-graded members (24 A+, 185 A, 11 A-). Including only candidates with NRA grades based on voting records, the 2010 House averaged a C+ (2.44 grade point average). This improved slightly in 2012 to a 2.47 GPA (still C+), indicating the election wasn’t about gun control.

This majority will be bolstered by 23 “AQ” freshman. NRA gives this grade to a candidate with no Second Amendment voting record, but who’s considered pro-rights based on the NRA-PVF candidate questionnaire. In 2010, the NRA gave 38 freshman House members an AQ grade. In 2012, 36 of these earned A grades, with one B+ and B-; the group averaged a solid A. Assuming that two of the current freshmen fail to uphold the promise implied in their questionnaire, that leaves 21 additional A-graded members for a solid pro-Second Amendment House majority of 241. (See following graph.)

Overall, 350 of the 380 incumbents won reelection (92%). NRA-endorsed incumbents also had a 92% reelection percentage (205 of 222), again indicating no voting bias against Second Amendment candidates. F-graded candidates replaced four of the 17 House seats (16 A's and one A+) lost by NRA-endorsed incumbents. The remaining ten seats now hold two A's, one B+, three AQ’s, and six “?” grades, given to those candidates without Second Amendment voting records that refused to answer NRA’s questionnaire.

This was balanced by 19 NRA-endorsed candidates winning open seats (no incumbent running). Their opponents averaged a D+, while the winners averaged A. Also, one F-graded incumbent (Betty Sutton, D-OH 16) lost to A-graded Jim Renacci. Seventeen of these seats averaged a B- in 2010; the other two were new seats created by redistricting.

Interestingly, candidates originally graded “?” shouldn’t be assumed to be anti-rights. Of candidates given “?” grades in 2008 and 2010, in the next election, the NRA  graded 30% A, 40% F, and 10% each B, C, and D. Estimating “AQ” and “?” candidates grades based on past performance, the 2012 House improves to a B- (2.51 GPA).

The following graph shows the House composition including the estimated grades for “AQ” and “?” candidates. Keeping in mind that past performance isn’t a guarantee of future outcomes, it remains likely that the House will continue having a controlling pro-rights majority.