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Does the National Rifle Association Influence Federal Elections?

This is a new Issue Paper from the Independence Institute, by Christopher B. Kenny, Michael McBurnett & David J. Bordua. It's the first empirical study to conclusively demonstrate and quantify interest-group influence on Congressional elections.

r78:

In the four modeling exercises there are 18
times where the NRA variable (endorsement or
membership) was tested. Of these, 13 indicated an
effect: either a gain for the challenger or endorsee
or a loss of votes for the opponent. Of the 13, 5 met
the customary 95% level of statistical
significance and 4 more met a 90%
standard.

Why was it only tested 18 times? That is only 9 per election. The NRA endorses far more candidates than that.

If there was only a statistically significant impact in 5 of the 18 races, how can you say that this "consclusively demonstrate[s]" influence on Congressional elections?
2.1.2007 6:08pm
r78:
And, to be clear - I don't doubt that the NRA is effective - that I why I contribute to it. But this study doesn't seem to establish anything.
2.1.2007 6:10pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Is this a peer-reviewed study?
2.1.2007 6:16pm
Beerslurpy (mail) (www):
Why only the two big years? Why not focus on more recent years in which there isnt a major blunder on the part of the anti-gunners to motivate gunnies.

If anything I give Brady and friends more credit for those victories than I do the NRA.
2.1.2007 6:44pm
r78:
Beerslurpy makes an excellent point. This data is 10 and 12 years old.

Since then there have been five more congressional elections and two presidential elections.

At most it seems that this study shows that there was 27% chance (5 of 18) that there was a statistically significant effect in elections 10 or 12 years ago. That horse is lame.
2.1.2007 7:09pm
albarello (mail) (www):
the first empirical study to conclusively demonstrate and quantify interest-group influence on Congressional elections.

Based simply on the sheer size and typical pastimes of the American political science profession, I have a hard time believing this statement. Unless that "conclusively" is ruling out rather a large number of papers.
2.1.2007 9:34pm
Cornellian (mail):
Reminds me of a Doonesbury comic strip where someone is talking to an NRA official, and the official is saying that they've reached such influence that politicians just automatically fall into line opposing gun control without having to be directly told to do so. The guy says "hey that sounds great" and the NRA official says "well it's not all good - we've had to lay off a couple of our lobbyists."
2.1.2007 10:35pm
Jacob T. Levy (mail) (www):
Albarello's right. There's no meaning of consistent meaning of "conclusive" for which "first empirical study to conclusively demonstrate and quantify interest-group influence on Congressional elections" can possibly be justified.
2.2.2007 9:26am
Mr. X (www):
The NRA affected the 1994 and 1996 elections. This does not seem like a novel concept or particularly enlightening.

A more interesting study would contrast those elections with the more recent ones in which there were no gun control laws being seriously proposed. I suspect that many other NRA members are like me: we take the NRA's advice on gun legislation, but ignore their water carrying for the GOP.
2.2.2007 9:57am
Jeek:
Does the National Rifle Association Influence Federal Elections?

It had damn well better - that's what I pay them for!
2.2.2007 10:34am
Anderson (mail) (www):
It had damn well better - that's what I pay them for!

Yeah, there may be a class-action suit in this ....
2.2.2007 12:16pm