Is Everytown's New Messaging Strategy a Smart Move or a Sign That They've Lost the Gun Control War?

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Posted: Sep 02, 2020 2:10 PM
Is Everytown's New Messaging Strategy a Smart Move or a Sign That They've Lost the Gun Control War?

Source: AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Everytown is spending $5 million in ads in Iowa and North Carolina to attack Sens. Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis, but there is something different here. They’re talking about energy and health care. Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon added that it could show a shift in messaging from the anti-gun group, a tacit acknowledgment that their trashing of the Second Amendment isn’t working with swing-state voters (via Free Beacon):

A leading gun-control group is spending millions to boost swing state Democrats, but its latest ads highlight non-gun issues, potentially signaling the limited appeal of gun restrictions in many key Senate races.

Everytown for Gun Safety's super PAC, backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, is running ads in Iowa and North Carolina that go beyond the group's core mission of gun control. The ads attack Senator Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) and Senator Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) on health care and energy in addition to mentioning gun issues.

"Ernst has taken thousands and thousands from big oil, the insurance industry, and the gun lobby," narration in the group's Iowa ad said. "Voting for them, against us. That's Joni Ernst."

[…]

Miles Coleman, associate editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said Everytown's attempt to appeal to issues beyond the Second Amendment could indicate that the group is not confident in gun control's appeal in swing states.

So, is this nonsense or a pretty sharp tweak to their messaging? Not all gun owners are Republicans. Is it safe to assume so? Maybe, but I’ll always circle back to the fact that 33 percent of gun owners voted for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s 2013 gubernatorial election. Pennsylvania has tons of gun owners and yet until 2016, the last time the state went Republican in a national election was Bush 41’s successful White House bid in 1988. That’s why there’s some healthy skepticism about the 10 million new gun owners that have popped up this year due to the coronavirus lockdowns and the leftist rioting. 

Robert Preston, an administrator for the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association, who spoke with Gutowski in a previous piece about these new gun owners, offered this warning. 

“As for new gun owners, it could help. However, there are many folks who own guns, whether new or old to guns, that would still vote for an anti-gun candidate because of other issues that are of more concern to that voter.”

Everytown might be taking that approach out for a spin. Let's hope it crashes into a ditch.