Democrats funding spike in gun control ads this election cycle
by Nicole Gaudiano, USA TODAY
Candidates across the country and allied outside groups are seizing on the issue of guns in advertising this election cycle, but with a twist: More spots now promote gun control than oppose it.
That messaging represents a reversal from the last midterm cycle in 2014 and even 2016, when the combined total of pro-gun-rights spots in governors, House and Senate races eclipsed those touting restrictions on guns, according to a USA TODAY analysis of data from Kantar Media.
The shift follows a rash of mass shootings, including the killing of 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School six months ago Tuesday.
Democrats are driving the surge in advertising favoring gun control as polling shows the public generally supports stricter laws covering the sale of firearms and overwhelmingly supports expanded background checks.
It could be a gamble, given that curbing access to guns has long been considered the third rail of politics. For decades, prominent Democratic candidates, especially in battleground states, have sought to reassure voters of their support for protections under the Second Amendment for the right to bear arms.
In 2018, however, candidates and outside groups – particularly in House and governors races – are flooding the airwaves with pointed and sometimes dramatic messages.
“I’m running for governor because I’m a parent who will not stop at anything until we make our gun laws stronger and our children safe,” says Philip Levine, a candidate in Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, which has drawn the largest number of spots favoring gun-control.
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