It’s no secret that gun owners are a significant voting block in national elections. After all, there is a reason that anti-gunner politicians and the mainstream media hate the NRA: the NRA is (accurately or not) seen by many as the face of political activism by gun owners in America. That anti-gunner politicians and the mainstream media hate the NRA so much says a lot about how much political sway gun owners have a group have in elections.
But it’s not just the most prominent anti-gunners who have noticed the political clout that gun owners have. Those who study politics have noticed it, too. A University of Kansas political science professor recently wrote a piece for the Oxford University Press’s website stating that he believed the gun owners may be the deciding block of voters in the 2020 election. That professor, Mark R. Joslyn, writes,
In 2000, the Democrat Party Platform celebrated Al Gore’s record of standing up to the NRA, the legislative successes of the Clinton administration, namely the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban, and called for mandatory gun locks and a host of federal programs regulating gun purchases.
Al Gore lost. Democrat leaders attributed the loss in part to gun owners support for George W. Bush, especially in states Gore was defeated including his home state of Tennessee. Public opinion surveys showed Bush won a historically large share of the gun owners vote – 66%, only Bush senior in 1988 attracted a greater proportion – 68%. To win elections, centrists Democratic strategists, concluded “Democrats need to reason with gun owners rather than insult them.”
Gun owners have long been a reliable GOP voting bloc. The General Social Surveys demonstrate that in 10 of the last 12 presidential elections, a majority of gun owners supported Republican candidates. Even when the nation supported a Democrat, gun owners typically remained loyal to Republicans. And in 2016, Donald Trump garnered over 60% of gun owners, which was the largest share since Bush in 2004. In the 2018 midterms, 61% of gun owners voted for Republican candidates compared to just 26% of non-owners, a 35-point gap.
This is not a small or insignificant political group. Opinion surveys estimate a third to 40% of households have a gun. That percentage increases notably among the all-important rural voting population. Moreover, in several key swing states gun owners comprise a substantial proportion of voters, including Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin. As Democrats remember, in a tight election, gun owners’ vote can be decisive.
Which party prevails [in November] may turn on whether swing state gunowners believe the factory worker [who confronted Joe Biden about his support for gun control] or Joe Biden [who says that he supports gun ownership with gun control].
We’ll have to see what happens in November, but one thing is clear to me, Biden, with his support of expanded gun control, won’t get my vote. Period.
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