The 2018 midterms were a major victory for the future of gun violence prevention (GVP). In key races across the country, NRA-backed lawmakers with a long history of blocking even basic progress towards passing sensible gun laws, were defeated by candidates who ran and won on a GVP platform. Brady is proud of its work to support these candidates and many other GVP champions who successfully defended their seats to finally secure a gun violence prevention majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and address the epidemic of gun violence in America with action that goes beyond “thoughts and prayers.”
The Brady Campaign mounted an unprecedented grassroots effort, harnessing our chapter support and renewed activism on our issue across the country. Over 500 Brady volunteers dedicated nearly 5,000 hours of electoral work for GVP candidates, helping them narrow the margins to victory by phone-banking, door-knocking, and talking to voters. This work was augmented by Brady PAC, a sister organization which provided direct contributions to its endorsed candidates and undertook independent expenditures targeting hotly contested races where GVP champions unseated A-rated NRA candidates, such as those in Virginia’s 2nd and 7th congressional districts, won by Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger respectively, as well as with Senator Chris Murphy’s NR8 Initiative.
Brady further enhanced its electoral activities by leveraging key partnerships with groups like Rock the Vote, the American Federation of Teachers, The Last Weekend, and Brady PAC to secure a GVP majority in both the U.S. House of Representatives and key state legislatures across the country. The ingredients for this success were set in motion in 2018 by student-spurred activism following the horrific shooting in Parkland, FL and the growing public sentiment that the status quo was no longer acceptable. Polling of voters in the run up to the election showed that gun reform was one of the most important topics on Americans’ minds going into the midterms. In exit polls, gun policy was consistently cited as one of the four most important issues facing the country, and over 60 percent of voters, regardless of party affiliation, said they wanted to see stronger gun laws enacted.
Polling conducted by Brady, in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers, underscored that gun violence prevention measures encapsulated in Brady’s Three Point Plan have strong support among voters across the nation: strengthening the background check system, banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and enacting extreme risk laws. A survey of voter attitudes in 11 battleground districts showed that voters across the political spectrum were more likely to vote for candidates who support strong GVP policies than those who oppose them. The election results bore out this prediction. While two federal races are still pending, for those races that have been decided 87 percent of Brady-endorsed candidates won their elections.
As we look toward further GVP gains in 2019 and 2020, the key ingredients to victory in 2018 will provide the platform for future success: a strong and diverse candidate endorsement process, thought leadership with committed Brady-endorsed GVP champions, and grassroots activism that harnesses the energy of our powerful chapter presence and our nation’s youth. These elements combined will ensure future victory for the GVP movement.