October 29, 2018 – In the closing days of the 2018 national election, anew survey from Giffords PAC, the gun safety organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, shows that “guns” is a major issue – second only to healthcare – among voters in MN-02, with nearly two-thirds of voters (65 percent) considering it important. The survey also indicates that after Giffords’$1.2 million-dollar-in-district ad campaign on guns, incumbent Jason Lewis now trails challenger Angie Craig by nine points after beating her by two points in 2016 — an 11-point swing.
“Voters in MN-02 deserve to know that Lewis is putting their communities in danger by continually siding with the gun lobby,” said Peter Ambler, executive director at Giffords. “A wave of change is coming to Congress in November and will bring gun safety champions like Angie Craig to office. This survey reinforced that all across the country, Americans are tired of the status quo when it comes to gun violence. Enough is enough. That’s why in Minnesota – and in swing districts coast to coast – people are paying attention to where candidates stand on stronger gun laws and voting accordingly.”
Giffords ran two ads exposing Lewis’ position on guns between September 21-October 11th (see ad 1; see ad 2) on broadcast TV and cable. The first ad features Burnsville, Minnesota resident Bob Mokos, a former Air Force pilot, NRA sharpshooter, and gun owner making the case that Lewis sided with the special interest gun lobby to weaken laws, putting his community’s safety at risk. The second ad contrasted Washington politician Jason Lewis’ record of opposing background checks with Angie Craig’s support for the Second Amendment and commonsense gun laws.
Craig has improved her vote share with key groups since Giffords PAC’s ad campaign began. Craig has expanded her lead with women (+9 in vote share since September), particularly non-college women (+16), independents (+9), and moderates (+17) – all of which were Giffords PAC ad campaign targets.
Additional Key Takeaways:
Guns are a top issue for MN-02 voters, second only to health care, and the intensity is on our side. Nearly two-thirds of voters (65%) consider “guns” a major issue when deciding whom to support this November, trailing only health care in importance. Gun issues are more important to voters than a candidate’s position on Trump, taxes, women’s rights, or the environment.
Voters’ awareness of Lewis’ specific positions on guns featured in Giffords PAC’s advertising grew during the ad campaign. Voters are 14 points more likely to report seeing or hearing about Lewis’ position on guns after the ad campaign.
As they learned the facts about Lewis’ record on guns, voters are now less favorable toward Lewis. In August, 42 percent were unfavorable of Lewis. Now, 47 percent are unfavorable of Lewis (+5 unfav).
Background on the Giffords 2018 Political Program
The initial step to the political program this year began in the hours after the Parkland shooting, when Giffords used #VoteCourage to get people to pledge to support candidates in November who will stand up to the gun lobby and fight for safer communities. In less than a week more than 450,000 Americans took the pledge.
Following the #VoteCourage pledge, Giffords began this ongoing, robust political program to shine a light on incumbents’ record of prioritizing the interests of the gun industry over public safety. It is encouraging voters to support candidates with the courage to stand up to the gun lobby. Along with the digital advertisements going out today and the website database, the program will include TV advertising, on-the-ground organizing and events, and a voter registration push.
Giffords launched a partnership with NextGen America and Everytown for Gun safety on a voter registration effort that is committing an initial $1.5 million to seek to get up to 50,000 Americans aged 18-19 registered for the midterm elections. In 2017, Giffords launched its candidate training program to help educate candidates who want to run on a gun safety platform and plans to expand the program in 2018.
The mass shooting at Parkland, in Florida, crystallized the country’s frustration with the lack of any action to pass gun safety laws. Gun death rates have climbed to levels not seen in decades. Currently, the country is averaging nearly 34,000 deaths from guns every year, andrecent polling shows that support for stronger gun laws is at an all-time high.
Last November saw gun safety champions win commandingly across the country – from statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey to a key state senate seat in Washington state. The elections sparked what has become known as the suburban rebellion in the districts that will matter to who will have control of Congress next year.
A recent public opinion survey released by Giffords also shows that gun safety is a winning issue in districts key to determining control of the House of Representatives. The poll looked into 38 battleground districts that are largely Republican-held. The results proved that embracing gun safety could be the difference-maker for Democrats in key swing districts, particularly because support for stronger gun laws remains high and the National Rifle Association’s favorability is on a downward trend.