How strong thy gun vote: Pro-gun candidates rake in more votes, regardless of party

by Jim Irvine

After every election, people and groups of all political stripes and issues look at numbers and try to make a case for their side. Without taking political sides, there are some interesting aspects in this year's election for those willing to take an honest look at the raw numbers.

We will only consider contested statewide races. These are the races where every Ohio voter had to make a decision to vote for/against two or more candidates. (We have identified party for the Supreme Court candidates. Even though these are "non-partisan" positions and no party affiliation appears on the ballot, the candidates themselves are generally aligned with and supported by a political party.)

This was a strong year for Republicans, who captured the top seven spots for total votes. Maureen O'Connor topped the list with 2,183,186 votes, followed by (in order of votes received) Rob Portman, Josh Mandel, Jon Husted, John Kasich, Dave Yost, and Mike DeWine.

On the Democratic side, Ted Strickland received the most votes with 1,752,790, followed by Richard Cordray, David Pepper, Maryellen O'Shaughnessy, Kevin Boyce, Lee Fisher, Mary Jan Trapp and Eric Brown.

In a clear signal to all candidates, the top two vote-getters in both parties were known to be strong pro-gun candidates and were endorsed by the NRA and Buckeye Firearms Association.

Looking down the list we see that the number three and four Republican vote-getters were also strong pro-gun candidates Mandel and Husted. Number three on the Democratic ticket was Pepper, with a mixed stance on guns. We see that candidates viewed as bad on the gun issue received less votes than pro-gun candidates, no matter which party they belonged to.

Looking at the races by percentage, we see again a strong correlation between successful candidates and the gun vote.

The most lopsided win was O'Connor over Brown, by better than a two to one margin. O'Connor is known to value Second Amendment rights and was endorsed by multiple pro-gun groups.

Avid sportsman Rob Portman has the next largest margin, capturing 57% of the vote in a five way race. His main opponent was anti-gun crusader and former board member of Handgun Control Inc., Lee Fisher, who only captured 39% of the vote. The 18 point margin is enormous in a state that voted for Obama two years before.

Even in three way races, pro-gun Republicans Mandel, Husted, and Yost captured a majority of the total votes cast. Two of these races pitted extreme differences in the candidates with strong friends Mandel and Husted topping their anti-gun opponents by 15 and 13 points respectively. In the Yost ("A" -rated) v Pepper ("C" -rated) race, Yost prevailed by a 6% margin.

The smaller the difference in the grades or gun vote, the fewer votes separating the candidates.

In two races where the Republican failed to receive high grades and endorsements from pro-gun groups, and faced Democrats with strong pro-gun backing, both Kasich and DeWine failed to win simple majorities. Their margins of victory were only 2.59% and 1.82% respectively.

In any other year, lacking such an enormous anti-Democratic and anti-incumbent voter sentiment, these two candidates clearly would have been in trouble.

In races where pro-gun Republicans faces anti-gun Democrats, (Secretary of State, Treasurer, U.S. Senator) the Republican won by an average margin of over 15 points. Where Republicans faced pro-gun Democrats (Governor and Attorney General) their average margin was barely two points. The 13 point difference would be the margin of victory in most contested races in most election years.

One would be hard pressed to find another issue with such a clear cost/benefit for the candidate interested in winning an election. No wonder we seem to elect a stronger pro-gun legislature every two years. Any honest person who understands the gun issue sides with the law-abiding gun owners, and thus with the NRA and Buckeye Firearms Association. The only real question is why every candidate is not working to be pro-gun. They must just be slow learners.

Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman.

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