NRA Has Mixed Results in Midterm Elections

(Bloomberg) -- Both gun control and gun rights groups claimed big wins during Tuesday’s midterm elections. In the Senate, a number of National Rifle Association-backed candidates gained seats. But in the House of Representatives, candidates who rebuked the group gained ground.

Sixty percent of midterm voters—including 42 percent of firearms owners—supported more stringent gun control measures, according to an NBC News exit poll. Just 36 percent opposed sure measures. 

The NRA spent over $1 million opposing Joseph Donnelly, a Democrat seeking a Senate seat in Indiana, according to data collected by The Trace NRA Campaign Spending Tracker. Donnelly lost to Republican Mike Braun. In Missouri, the group spent about $700,000 in support of Republican Josh Hawley’s Senate bid, who took the seat from incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill. (The NRA also spent about $667,000 opposing her re-election campaign.)

In 2016, the NRA's legislative arm and political action committee spent handsomely on candidates. This year, however, the group spent less than it did in the previous three election cycles. A spokesman for the group said that its unrestricted assets fluctuate "based upon the needs of the organization" and added that its membership was at peak levels.

Overall, NRA-backed candidates won 106 races and lost 33, according to the NRA Money Bot, a campaign expenditure tracker created by The Trace, a firearms focused news outlet, using data from ProPublica and the Federal Election Commission. Election results can’t be attributed solely to the group’s spending, given that many voters focused on non-firearms related issues and some of the expenditures were relatively small. For instance, the group spent a mere $1,521 on California Republican Devin Nunes’s bid for a House seat.

Gun control groups also claimed a victory. “More NRA-backed politicians lost their seats last night than ever before,” tweeted Jaclyn Corin, a student who survived the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February and co-founder of March for Our Lives.

“The NRA lost big last night,” the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tweeted on Wednesday. “Votes are still being counted, but it's clear: the politics around gun safety are changing.”

(Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP, is a donor to groups that support gun control, including Everytown for Gun Safety.)

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.