by Jim Nintzel
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly examine how well their Political Action Committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, did in supporting candidates and ballot measures across the country:
Sometimes it can be difficult to identify a signal through all the noise in the hours after a big election. There were a lot of races called last night, each one with unique factors, local and national, influencing the final outcome.
We felt it important to check in with you — today — on the progress of our shared work as an organization committed to keeping our communities safer from gun violence.
There's a lot to be proud of. In the races where we took action to elevate the issue of gun safety, we won more times than we lost. And that was no easy feat last night.
First, we won in Washington State, the one place background checks were actually on the ballot. A measure mandating universal background checks passed overwhelmingly, while a gun lobby attempt to confuse voters failed. As you know, we made multiple trips to the state, we ran a paid mail program, and our groups Veterans for Responsible Solutions and Gun Owners for Responsible Solutions were active as well. Our mail program was particularly interesting because we ran sophisticated controlled experiments to determine the precise people we needed to reach, and with what specific message, in order to get them to vote YES on Initiative 594 and NO on 591. In the end, we estimate we may have convinced 20,000 people to support I-594 and 13,000 to oppose I-591. It will also help us in future campaigns.
In Connecticut, Governor Malloy is claiming victory after a hard fought campaign where guns were a central issue in the race. His leadership in the hours, days, and weeks after the tragedy at Sandy Hook made this one of our "must haves" for the night. Our sister organization, Common Sense Connecticut, worked hard to get our message out in the final weeks in the race — when we watched it shift in our favor.
There were losses, no doubt. We're sad that we lost in races with champions of common sense like Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mark Udall in Colorado. They stood with us, and we stood with them. And while we're disappointed with the results in those races, the map shifts in our favor during the 2016 elections, and we look forward to playing offense, as opposed to just defending seats.
We also won a few Senate races: Jeanne Shaheen pulled through, and Al Franken was victorious. In New Hampshire, we ran a powerful ad in the final days of the campaign featuring a father who lost his six-year-old son at the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The House was a mixed bag with results still pending. A split in New Hampshire, loss in Colorado, win in Pennsylvania, loss in Iowa, and Ron Barber's race still too close to call.
So what does this all mean? It means that we move forward as an organization with a tremendous amount of new knowledge and information about how to defeat the gun lobby in competitive races. We won in the one place background checks were on the ballot, and did so by a wide margin. With near universal support for expanded background checks, it's an area we'll expand upon in the future. We lost a few races, but learned a lot about the gun lobby's tactics in competitive campaigns. Our organization ran a sophisticated data and analytics operation, and we'll learn even more as numbers come in from the races we invested in.
We also re-affirmed what we knew the day we started this organization shortly after the tragedy at Sandy Hook — that you are the backbone of the campaign to keep our communities safer from gun violence. You contributed, made calls, and knocked on doors. When supporters of common sense solutions vote to keep us safer vote, we win.
And we will keep racking up wins in the future. We're sure of it.
Thanks for standing with us. We'll be in touch.
Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly