Elections and Consequences

With so many of the administration’s policies facing legal challenges, the increased likelihood that those cases could end up before more ideologically sympathetic judges is a reassuring development to the White House. Nowhere has this dynamic been more evident than at the District of Columbia court, which is considered the second most important appeals court in the nation, after the Supreme Court.

It’s not just SCOTUS, he’s been able to rejigger the entire system.

Keeping Up The Political Fight

When I’ve tried to motivate gun owners to get involved in political campaigns, one of the most common excuses given for not helping out is that one or more of their local lawmakers is anti-gun. Well, that’s just dandy, but what about the pro-gun guy/gal running statewide? They still need every vote they can find in every region of a state.

That’s the attitude of a winning campaign. And, to give the man credit, that’s exactly how Obama ran his campaign. I’m reading the legacy report right now between surfing for gun news, and this tidbit really popped out for me:

We didn’t win a majority of votes in every neighborhood, but every neighborhood helped us reach 51 percent in states and 270 nationally.

Basically, they sought out every single vote they could find because they knew that it would all add up in each state. I didn’t matter if it was in a Congressional district that would go overwhelming GOP, every Democratic vote they could find there would help the top of the ticket.

There’s much more to consider when it comes to campaign organizing in the report. However, I think it can be summed up as a form of making volunteer efforts social. The numbers show that it works. The people who made it a social network were nearly 3x as likely to spend 10+ hours a week volunteering for the campaign.

I find it frustrating in many ways because we already have the resources to repeat this kind of success on gun rights. They are called gun clubs and gun ranges. They offer facilities, networks, and can even pool together some money for cheap activism tools like pens, paper, and stamps. Many have enough to pay for things like phone lines that members could use or meeting places for people to put together campaign signs or prepare literature drop materials. Now we just need more of the culture that is willing to put together such events now and/or at election time.

How to Win Elections: Don’t be a Stupid Dick

Jim Geraghty has an excellent prescription for the conservative movement, and one I can’t endorse heartily enough. When your opponents best strategy is to paint you as out of touch, nasty, angry dicks, it helps to not be out of touch, nasty, angry dicks. I think a big problem on the right is there’s way too many people who cash in on that kind of thing, and who have a vested interest in perpetuating it.

The GOP also needs a way to appeal to younger voters. Many younger voters believe the current copyright regime is outdated and backwards. Why the GOP embraces the same policy as the Democrats on issues like copyright and intellectual property is beyond me. There would be no political cost embracing the issue and everything to go gain. Because it seemingly makes such a strong strategic case for the GOP, it should be no surprise they want nothing to do with the idea.

Wednesday Tab Clearing

Got a lot built up in the tabs:

Obama just did a better job of targeting low information voters.

In 59 Philadelphia voting divisions, Mitt Romney got zero votes. Even if something isn’t fishy, the groupthink displayed with that is astounding. You almost wish it’s fraud.

Gun sales are up, up, up.

Some post-election advice from a Frenchman.

An Outrage in the UK. Soldier brings a gun back from a war zone accidentally, is charged.

An instructor who has had poor dealings with blogs before, shoots someone in a massive display of training fail.

Roll your own dishwasher detergent. Detergent hasn’t been the same since the government ruined it by demanding the manufacturers remove the phosphates.

Gun Owner Votes Count

I get so damn sick of the message that individual votes don’t matter. Last election, we had a local state house race that was decided by around 100 votes. That’s so close that it’s painful. Well, this year, we have an even more painful vote – and that’s even with the numbers working in favor of the pro-gun candidate and against the anti-rights guy.

For those who don’t follow Pennsylvania politics closely, we had this legislator named Levdansky. He was the American Hunters & Shooters Association of lawmakers. He proclaims to be a sportsman, but he actively sought to screw all gun owners and even ruin everything for hunters in Pennsylvania by pushing HSUS-dream type bills. He cozied up to anti-rights groups and CeaseFire PA made his attempt to reclaim the office he lost in 2010 their priority House race this year.

Meanwhile, the current incumbent, Rep. Rick Saccone, actually supports Second Amendment and hunting rights.

This year, they are in a rematch. I say are and not were because the race is still to be determined. For a while, Levdansky was up by a few votes, but a more thorough count of all of the ballots in every precinct now puts Saccone up by 36 votes. Three dozen voters.

Because it’s such a close call, it’s going to hearings by the election board which is 2-1 Democratic control. The hearing isn’t until Friday, and the final count isn’t expected until next week, according to various news outlets.

If you happen to know any gun owners who didn’t vote in that race, you might want to give them a piece of your mind. Every vote will matter, and this razor thin margin makes it too close for comfort for any gun owner in the state.

ROI For NRA Spending

I’ve seen a lot of analysis like this that NRA basically blew a wad of cash for nearly nothing. If you look at our overall results in Pennsylvania, things don’t look that bad. But the fact is that in a lot of key races, NRA got beaten badly.

NRA is certainly not alone. A good many groups on the right also sunk huge, often times much much larger sums of dollars into this election with even less to show for it. That will hopefully blunt the damage to NRA’s reputation, but this is going to hurt, for certain. What is the root problem here? I would boil it down to a few factors.

  • For the past two elections, NRA has had a choice between Barack Obama and a candidate that could be charitably described as a compromise. John McCain was well understood to have gone all “maverick” on NRA at various points in his political career, and while Mitt Romney’s actual record on the issue wasn’t nearly as bad as his rhetoric, that signing statement was bound to dog him. NRA has never been in a position to endorse a candidate for President who was actually strong on our issue, and everyone knows it. NRA did much better in down ticket races where this was not a factor.
  • No grassroots interest group can hope to do more than swing elections at the margins. When you don’t have a close election, it’s hard to claim interest groups were relevant. NRA suffered extensive losses in their U.S. Senate endorsements. Two candidates probably deserve the blame there, namely Mourdock in Indiana, and Akin in Missouri. Their ridiculous jabbering about rape poisoned the well of GOP Senate prospects, and took most of those races down below the NRA’s margin. That’s not something that could have been helped, because it was a messaging problem created by two bad candidates.
  • The center-right groups are not reaching younger voters, largely because their use of technology is backwards. NRA actually does a better job in this area than most of the other groups that flushed millions of dollars down the toilet this election, but that’s not saying NRA’s efforts are particularly good. I believe a big component of Obama’s two victories have been his effective use of technology to reach and motivate younger voters, who are not reachable by TV, print or direct mail. We’re finally starting to see the technology revolution come to politics, and it’s OFA who is leading.
  • The GOP didn’t run on gun rights at all this election cycle. Even Obama’s Fast and Furious scandal got nary a mention. Most pundits believed everyone wanted to hear about the economy, and that if the Democrats made this a culture war election, they would lose. Well, how did that work out? The Democrats pounded the GOP on culture war issues with single women and young people, and won those groups by large margins. Gun rights are actually a culture war issue where there’s no generation gap. Why not attack Obama on the issue?

The bigger question is what to do about it? It should be possible to motivate young people on gun rights. If there’s one thing that’s true about Millennials, is that they are extremely socially liberal. If guns are your “thing” — how you like to spend your Saturdays — most Millennials are fine with that. It’s your thing. Millennials don’t make strong value judgements on other people’s choices, and that is required to be a strong gun control advocate. The way to market gun rights to Millennials is to make them understand it as a lifestyle choice, and an issue of personal freedom. If you can do that, you’ll sell it to them. To that extent, I actually think blogs that heavily feature the shooting life are more useful for reaching that generation than political gun blogs like mine.

I think everyone on the right needs to understand the OFA machine. This is something I’m very curious about, but I don’t have time right now to try to dig to understand more of how it works. But every center-right group, including NRA, needs to start thinking more seriously about reaching younger voters, and using technology as a force multiplier in GOTV efforts. This means investing a lot more in technology spending, and bringing people on board who deeply understand how young people consume and share information. The days of raising money, awareness, membership and action, by sending oodles of direct mail or making phone calls, if not dead, is nearly so. If NRA and other groups keep messaging to the old, they will die with the old.

Good News: OFA Won’t Be Transferred

Obama For America, which is Obama’s magic turnout machine, won’t be transferred to another candidate. As much as one might appreciate the human political talents of Presidents like Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton, qualities Obama is generally lacking by comparison, Obama’s talent with the raw mechanics of the political process is unrivaled. Or at the least, he was smart enough to hire very smart people to put the OFA machine together. Many of the things OFA did are truly, and stunningly innovative, and their use of new Information Technology to drive turnout has been unheard of until 2008, and then again in 2012.

If the GOP were smart (which is questionable most days) they would be studying the OFA machine in detail and figuring out how to copy it. Despite the fact that OFA will not be handed off to the next standard bearer of the Democratic brand, the Democrats will still retain significant institutional knowledge from OFA. If the Republicans fail to copy these techniques, it would only further doom them to electoral failure.

Stocks Rally on Election Outcome

Believe it or not, I don’t actually get excited by this news.

I saw an awful lot of reasonable folks on Twitter last night talking about how they are going to the gun store to stock up or just getting a gun for the household. These aren’t crazy or bad people, they are just concerned about the continued state of the economy and how, should the well of other people’s money dry up, there could be a rising crime rate. They are also concerned about the future of the courts and how many gun control laws are coming now that Obama doesn’t have to be accountable to voters anymore.

So, yeah. Still, it says what it says. The folks investing in these companies are in it to make money, and they clearly see at least a short-term future for making money in guns. (h/t to Peter for the tip to look up the stock prices)