In addition to the victory for universal background checks in the Washington State initiative, there were other bright spots for gun violence prevention in the recent mid-term elections. According to Tim Daly at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, supporters of sensible gun policies won both large and small victories. Here’s part of Daly’s recap:
Gun Safety Groups Took A Giant Leap Towards Political Power Parity with the NRA in 2014.
This year, however, gun safety groups – Washington Gun Responsibility, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Everytown Action Fund (WA), and Independence USA PAC — nearly matched the NRA’s spending, allotting more than $30 million to pass the successful ballot measure and support gun safety candidates around the country.
In Governors and US Senate Races, Background Checks Helped Supporters.
Incumbent governors who signed the nation’s most sweeping post-Sandy Hook gun laws all won reelection. The strongest laws passed after Sandy Hook, were Colorado, Connecticut, New York’s. In all three states incumbent Democratic governors appear to have won reelection. In Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper appear to have overcome a challenging wave in his state outperforming Senator Udall by 4 points. In Connecticut, Governor Malloy was reelected, in a race where both gun lobby and gun safety groups spent seven figures.
Senators who voted for background checks won about as many races as those who voted No. Despite an unfavorable map and a wave election, Senators who voted yes on Manchin-Toomey performed well. 26 of this year’s Senate races featured incumbent Senators who were in office in April 2013 and voted on the Manchin-Toomey measure: 13 Yes votes and 13 No votes. 10 the 13 Senators who voted Yes were reelected, and that may become 11 if Sen. Landrieu wins a run-off election; meanwhile 11 of the 13 Senators who voted No. Meanwhile, pre-election surveys showed that background checks vote helped Senators who voted Yes.
In 2016, Geography and Demographics will be Much More Favorable for Supporters of Strong Gun Laws.
Voters of Color. Voter turnout among African-American, Latino and other voters of color is generally lower in midterm elections. This year, 75% of the electorate was made up of white, non-Hispanic voters, up from a 28% share in 2012. However, 2016 is likely to be the first election in American history where white, non-Hispanic voters are expected to make up less than 70% of the electorate. Support for common sense gun laws is strong among non-white voters: a 2013 poll of Latino voters found that 85% of respondents supported universal background checks. Among African American voters, recent polls show that 84% support universal background checks.
Single Women. Since 2000, the share of single women voting in elections has been growing. This year single women made up 22% of voters, up from 21% in 2010. Participation by single women is higher in Presidential years and in 2016, single women about a quarter of voters in 2016. Polls show that women care about the gun issue: in fact, almost all (93%) women support background checks for all gun purchases.
Young voters. Millenial voters are projected to increase by 4 million per year until 2018. By 2016, millenials are projected to represent one-third of all eligible voters. The gun issue is a key one to help drive turnout of millennial voters: according to a 2013 poll, 70% of respondents under the age of 30 agreed that “the gun culture in our society has gotten out of control” and 92% supported background checks for all gun sales.