Gun violence prevention was an important issue to voters, and candidates who made gun reform a central issue of their campaigns fared well on Election Night.
November 6, 2018 -- Washington, D.C. -- Pride Fund to End Gun Violence PAC – America’s only national LGBTQ political organization focused solely on gun violence prevention - is extremely pleased at the importance voters placed on gun reform in deciding how they voted and for electing a large class of new gun reform champions to Congress. Support for changes to our gun laws is at an all-time high, even among conservatives and gun owners. In fact, 65% of Americans support stricter gun laws, 97% of Americans support universal background checks on gun sales, and 70% support a ban on assault weapons. Polling done before the election showed that gun reform was one of the most important topics on Americans’ minds going into the midterm elections. In exit polls, a sizeable 1 in 10 voters turning out to vote across the country chose gun policy as the most important problem facing the country, and this is the #2 issue for Democratic voters after healthcare.
“Over 38,000 Americans die each year from gun violence. In just 3 years, America has seen 5 of its top 10 deadliest mass shootings. Pre-election polling showed that the impact of the American gun violence epidemic made the issue of gun reform one of the most important topics on voters’ minds going into the midterm elections,” said Jason Lindsay, Founder and Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, who is an Iraq war veteran.
Here is a summary of some polling that reflects the significance of gun reform to voters this year:
A Kaiser Foundation poll released before the midterm elections identified gun reform as a driving issue for 60% of all likely voters, including conservatives and gun owners.
In a poll released by the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, gun reform was identified as the number one issue to LGBTQ voters going into the election, ranked above healthcare, the economy, and even LGBTQ-specific issues. Overall, 75% said that a candidate’s position on gun reform was likely to impact their vote.
A study by the YWCA found gun reform to be the number one issue among women, especially women of color and younger women, followed by healthcare and equal pay.
Among suburban women - a crucial bloc of swing voters - gun reform is also a top priority issue, and they prefer the Democratic party’s approach to addressing the gun violence epidemic by 26 percentage points.
A poll by Everytown for Gun Safety found that 61% of Americans think candidates should give more attention to gun violence prevention, and 72% said that gun reform should be a top priority for the new Congress that takes office in January.
The 2018 midterm elections were critical in the fight for gun reform and defeating NRA-backed candidates. As an organization, Pride Fund’s primary mission is to change the balance of power in Congress so that changes to our gun laws can pass. To do that, Pride Fund focused on some of the most competitive races in the country, places where there was an opportunity to defeat an NRA-backed candidate and elect a gun reform champion in their place.
“We are thrilled to congratulate all of the gun reform champions who won their races tonight. These wins further prove that candidates can win when they run on a gun violence prevention platform,” said Jason Lindsay, Pride Fund Executive Director. “These elections send a message to Republicans across the country that voters reject the dangerous agenda of the NRA. If you stand with the gun lobby, we will vote you out. We look forward to seeing the newly elected leaders serve their constituents, not the NRA and gun manufacturers as their predecessors did.”
Pride Fund supported the following candidates and executed its largest and most diverse election effort of the past three election cycles to help elect pro-gun reform, pro-LGBTQ candidates to the House, Senate, and state capitals across the country. As part of our efforts, we got involved in many races during their primary elections and continued as true partners through the general election. As part of our support for endorsed campaigns, we provided education on gun safety issues, communications messaging, social media content and graphics. Our biggest effort was the release of 5 digital ad campaigns supporting our top candidates in critical battleground districts. Using advanced micro-targeting, we delivered these ads directly to registered voters who are critical to winning the election and to whom the message will appeal.
Below are some highlights from key wins.
Some of the Top Winning Candidates Supported by Pride Fund:
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26): Pride Fund was a leader in this race and was the only gun reform group to endorse Mucarsel-Powell. The two largest gun reform groups actually supported the Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo, who had a long history of voting for the NRA agenda in Congress, and took $75,000 in campaign contributions from the NRA. In contrast, Pride Fund understood from the start that Mucarsel-Powell was the gun reform champion. After losing her father to gun violence, she committed herself to this issue and will be a consistent, reliable vote in favor of common-sense gun laws and LGBTQ equality in Congress. As part of the effort to elect Mucarsel-Powell, Pride Fund ran a digital ad campaign, “Consistency,” which highlights her commitment to gun reform and exposes Curbelo’s ties to the NRA.
Elaine Luria (VA-2) defeated Republican incumbent Scott Taylor. Taylor was extreme on guns, taking NRA money the day after the Parkland shooting, defending the NRA’s dangerous agenda, and even failing to support universal background checks. Pride Fund released two ads in support of Luria, one that highlighted how Scott Taylor accepted a campaign check from the NRA just one day after the mass shooting in Parkland and one that juxtaposed Congressman Scott Taylor’s poor voting record on gun reform with the positive experience and military background of Luria.
Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) defeated incumbent Republican Congresswoman Barbara Comstock by an impressive margin. During her time in office, Comstock took $137,000 from the NRA and voted down every common-sense gun reform proposal placed before her. Pride Fund’s digital ad exposed Comstock for her NRA ties and highlighted how Wexton would be a leader on this issue. Wexton campaigned on the principles of public safety, and her victory is a testament that NRA-backed Republicans will be voted out of office for standing in the way of gun reform.