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How Did the Election Impact the Second Amendment?

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence wasted no time promoting the 2010 election as a victory for gun control.

Twenty-seven Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were endorsed by the National Rifle Association were defeated yesterday, while only two incumbent Democratic House members who co-sponsored a major gun control bill this session lost their re-election bids.

How did Brady do?

Overall, Brady endorsees won 92% of their House races.* But deeper examination highlights questions about their endorsement process.

In 2008, Brady rode Obama’s coattails to victory, endorsing nearly all Democrats in likely Democrat districts, then proclaiming it a victory for gun control in their post-election report.

However, Brady was soon disappointed. In January 2010, Brady wrote: “Barack Obama was elected on a campaign platform of enacting strong new gun laws,” but failed to deliver. This was because analysis of their report showed that Brady:

  • Manipulated their endorsement process to manufacture a better winning percentage,
  • Ignored the fact that voters didn’t consider gun control an important issue,
  • Ignored voters’ frustration with Republicans (Brady endorses Democrats almost exclusively), and
  • Ignored all the pro-rights Democrats who were elected.

In 2010, Brady again selected many safe candidates to endorse. As in 2008, Brady focused endorsements in traditionally Democratic, anti-rights states, like New York, California, and Massachusetts. Connecticut was one of the few states with a Democratic sweep; Brady endorsed three of their five reps. Massachusetts elected 10 (of 10) Democrats, five were Brady-endorsed.

Brady endorsed 25 of California’s 53 winning representatives. These all came from districts that have voted Democrat in recent decades, generally the last 20+ years, and 24 were incumbents who stood an above-average chance of re-election.

Curiously, Brady dropped many 2008 endorsees, mostly in at-risk states – to them – perhaps because of the justifiable apprehension that Democrat endorsees would lose. These states had higher rates of Republican wins, and all but 2 Brady endorsees are Democrats.

In an apparent first, Michael Arcuri (NY-24) went from Brady- to NRA-endorsed (2008-2010) because he became pro-rights, voting for concealed carry in national parks and cosponsoring NRA-supported BATFE reform.

Arcuri and 44 others lost their 2008 Brady endorsement; 36 maintained their NRA F-grade and three their 2008 D-grade. Curiously, Pelosi lost hers despite a solid anti-rights record. With few exceptions, Brady kept endorsements in “safe” states, earning the highest grades in their latest scorecard: Brady’s top 6 states (scoring 50+) contained a majority (59%) of Brady’s endorsees.

Brady picked some likely wins to boost their numbers. For example, Joseph Cao lost to Brady-endorsed Cedric Richmond, a black, in Louisiana’s 60% black District 2. The Los Angeles Times called Cao’s 2008 win a “fluke.” The only reason he won was because 19-year Congressman William Jefferson was about to be convicted for bribery. Since 1893, Cao was the first non-Democrat to hold this seat.

Charles Djou (HI-1) won a special election when 20-year Democratic Representative Neil Abercrombie resigned to run for governor. Djou won with only 39% of vote, because two Democrats split the party ticket. Brady-endorsed Colleen Hanabusa, who won in 2010, was one of those candidates. This district traditionally votes Democrat.

This is how Brady manufactures larger winning percentages.

* (This analysis covers only the House because 435 outcomes is a better sample size than the Senate’s 37.)