I’m going to way out on a limb and before I saw myself off, assume that HRC is going to win. I know, I know, the old evil eye. But if every poll except that crazy LA Times tracking poll is somehow correct, then it looks like this one can be put to bed. Which brings me to ask myself (and all of you) the following question: If Trump-o really gets stomped, what does this result portend for the future of the NRA?
Because the NRA has done several unprecedented things in this election cycle which deserve to be better understood. To begin, the organization endorsed Trump at their annual meeting in April, and turned what is usually a stop-off for all the national Republican candidates into a showcase for just one. Then they followed this unprecedented move by ponying up more than $21 million for television ads which, according to our buddy Tim Johnson, is almost twice as much as they have ever spent on any previous Presidential campaign.
For me, the most inexplicable thing about all this spending is that it’s not as if the NRA’s membership needs to be convinced to vote for Trump. Talk about preaching to the converted, isn’t Gun-nut Nation and Make America Great Again basically one and the same? And while states like Florida and North Carolina are important swing states where lots of people own guns, what makes them swing states is the potential voter turnout by demographics that don’t own guns.
Given the degree to which Hillary has been the NRA’s favorite punching-bag for longer than I can recall, and given the fact that the average NRA member can be counted on to vote for the Red Team no matter who is quarterbacking the squad, why did the NRA go so far out on a limb for Trump? Or to put it another way, what did they hope to achieve? You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that, if nothing else, Clinton really represents a threat to Gun-nut Nation far beyond what has previously been faced. She is the first blue national candidate to make gun control a central plank of her campaign; and she didn’t do this just to outflank Bernie, she did it because she knows that in a national campaign against someone like Trump, trying to present herself as a ‘defender’ of the 2nd Amendment is a waste of time.
But I also have to assume that at some point Trump made it clear to the NRA leadership that, if elected, he would consider himself to be their President in terms of advancing and supporting a political agenda that meets NRA’s needs. And this agenda would primarily consist of a national concealed-carry permit valid in all 50 states, as well as using the 2nd Amendment as a litmus-test for nominations to the nation’s highest court.
The only problem in this little NRA-Trump love fest, of course, is that even back in April, the polls showed that Trump’s chances of actually succeeding Obama were slim to none. So why does the NRA continue to dump money into his campaign when the campaign has become nothing more than the candidate claiming that he didn’t say and do what we all know he said and did?
Because what the NRA hopes will come out of this campaign is a feeling on the part of Gun-nut Nation that America’s oldest civil rights organization is really fighting for them. In 2013 the revenue from membership dues was $175 million, in 2014 it dropped to $128 mill. So in 2013 they ended up more than $50 million in the black, in 2014 they lost $35 million bucks.
And the greater the victory margin (we hope) for Hillary, the more the NRA can say that when it comes to protecting the 2nd Amendment, they’re the only game in town. In fact, their advertising campaign isn’t about Donald Trump; it’s about the NRA.