I figured the competing endorsements, of Toomey by the Bloomberg Camp and McGinty by the CeaseFire Camp (as if they were separate: Bloomberg funds CeaseFire) was to create a situation such that no matter what the outcome, victory against the evil gun lobby could be declared. This article in the Dallas News backs that up, because it looks to me like prepping the ground space for this narrative. See, Toomey loses to McGinty, it’ll mean the people want gun control. And if Toomey gets re-elected, it’ll mean the people want gun control. You can see how Bloomberg can use this effectively.
McGinty is attacking Toomey for not being gun control enough, which was entirely predictable. She argues his background check effort was largely window dressing, which is absolutely true. Toomey was trying to have his cake and eat it too, apparently believing Bloomberg’s bullshit polling on the issue and thinking his money would help him. If Toomey loses, it’ll be because most of us “stayed home.” It won’t be because he wasn’t gun control enough.
There is a strong undercurrent within the GOP in Pennsylvania that this is a safe issue to equivocate on, which was probably true decades ago when the GOP maintained their political machines in the ring counties. Growing up in Delco, hard to believe today, but a lot of Dems registered as Republicans because that was the only way you could have an actual vote. Plus, if you wanted county jobs, you had better belong to the right party, and that wasn’t the Dems. If there are any older Delco readers, you probably remember the “War Board.” A lot of GOP elders have not really fully grasped the consequences of the collapse of that system. The GOP leaders have clearly not been opening the cross tabs on a lot of these polls and seeing how wide the gap is by party affiliation. Those cross tabs show that Democrats overwhelmingly support gun control, and Republicans overwhelmingly support gun rights. Independents? They lean a bit more Republican on the issue than Democrat. This should be especially noted in a state, like Pennsylvania, where if Republicans win state-wide office, it’s going to be by a hair’s breath. Toomey needs every vote he can get, and there are a lot of us that feel he stabbed us in the back.
And it’s not necessarily just because he went against us on this one issue of background checks: his record of disagreement on that issue was pretty clear going in. It was the manner in which he went about it where the real insult came. Toomey could have signed onto Tom Coburn’s Amendment. He could have actually read the FOPA provisions in his bill that would have effectively gutted its protections. He could have acknowledged his mistakes. But instead of that, to add insult to injury, he took Bloomberg’s money, endorsement, and allows ads to run that try to out-gun-control McGinty? Yeah, screw that, Pat.
Toomey is also wrong about background checks: they always poll great when people are asked about them abstractly. When people start having to think about the actual policy implications of what the gun control groups actually want, then maybe they don’t poll so well. We saw this in Washington also, that the policy specific doesn’t vote tally nearly as well as it polls, even when put to the people in a deep blue state. That Nevada’s initiative is polling at 54% gives me a little hope we can reduce Bloomberg’s margin a good bit this go-round, or perhaps even defeat him outright. Gun control has historically over-polled on ballot initiatives.
As for Toomey, I couldn’t care less about his fate. Defeat would at least show the GOP that there is no room to equivocate on this issue, and that touching Bloomberg or his money in exchange for equating on gun rights is a fatal move.