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Why the NRA won't celebrate the 2014 elections

Did Republicans have a good election cycle? Yes. Did the NRA have a good election cycle? Not really.
A woman points a handgun with a laser sight on a wall display of other guns during the National Rifle Association convention Friday, April 13, 2007, in St. Louis.
A woman points a handgun with a laser sight on a wall display of other guns during the National Rifle Association convention Friday, April 13, 2007, in St. Louis.
If you missed last night's segment, Rachel noted a point that hasn't gotten quite enough attention: Republicans have had a great election cycle, but their pals in the National Rifle Association did not.
Alec MacGillis' recent piece rings true:

There were precious few silver linings for Democrats in last week's midterms, but a big one has been mostly overlooked. It was a pretty good election, all things considered, for the movement to strengthen gun laws -- a part of the liberal coalition that is supposed to be among the most beleaguered. In fact, the election quietly shifted the dynamic on gun politics in ways that could have a significant impact on coming fights over gun laws and on the 2016 election.

For a variety of reasons -- some real, some imagined -- the political world has come to think of the NRA as an unstoppable political juggernaut. But this year, the group went after Connect Gov. Dan Malloy (D) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) with a vengeance, and both won their re-election campaigns anyway.
And it wasn't just statewide races, either.

After two Colorado lawmakers who supported strict new gun-control laws were voted out of office in a special recall election last year, the National Rifle Association and its allies celebrated their huge win in the battle over gun laws in state capitols. But that particular victory did not last. Even as Coloradans elected a Republican senator for the first time in a dozen years and handed Republicans control of one chamber of the state legislature, voters did an abrupt about-face when it came to the recalls. The two pro-gun Republicans elected during the recalls were handily beaten this month by Democratic candidates -- one of whom once worked for the gun-control group founded by former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City.

And in the state of Washington, a measure was on the ballot that would implement background checks for all gun sales in the state. It passed by 18 points.
Democrats, meanwhile, discovered that siding with the NRA doesn't get you much -- Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) voted with the group every step of the way, but the NRA still sided with his right-wing opponent. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) voted with the NRA, and while the group stayed out of the race, Republicans still accused the Democrat of being insufficiently pro-gun.
MacGillis added, "The National Rifle Association's power is rooted in perception -- the widespread notion that to oppose the NRA is career suicide for elected officials and candidates in red or purple states. The challenge for the gun-control movement has been to change that perception so that even the most politically self-interested elected officials stop viewing a vote for the NRA as necessarily more prudent."
The fact that the NRA came up short, even as Republicans rode an apparent wave nationwide, may very well cause a reevaluation of existing assumptions.