You may have heard that there’s a tough pro–gun control ad up in Kentucky this week targeting Senator Mitch McConnell, who faces re-election in 2014. The powerful spot features a veteran speaking to camera with his grandson on his lap. The man, a Kentucky resident named Rodney, calls for an assault weapons ban and background checks—but the thrust of the ad is to depict McConnell’s anti–gun law stance as a direct byproduct of his gun industry funding. Says Rodney: “Senator Mitch McConnell is funded by the gun industry, and he opposes common-sense reforms. Senator McConnell, whose side are you on?”
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is behind the ad, and they released some polling earlier this week as well, showing that 82 percent of Kentuckians favor criminal background checks for gun owners (versus 13 percent opposed) and 50 percent favored an assault weapons ban (versus 42 percent opposed). It was conducted by Public Policy polling, rated by Fordham University as the most accurate pollster in 2012.
Now, in more PPP polling results released first to The Nation, we see that hitting McConnell for his gun-industry backing is indeed fertile territory in Kentucky:
Who do you think Mitch McConnell represents more in Congress: his big campaign contributors or regular Kentucky voters?
His big campaign contributors: 53%
Regular Kentucky voters: 36%
Not sure: 11%
The poll was conducted February 1-3 among 712 likely voters in Kentucky, with a 3.7 percent margin of error.
We don’t yet know the impact of the ad itself, as the polling was done before it was released—but it’s clearly hitting McConnell in established soft spots. The PCCC received significant small-dollar donations this week after word of the ad spread, allowing it to extend the buy until Tuesday—including during the Louisville Cardinals game this weekend, the Sunday talk shows, and the State of the Union address.
This has larger implications not only for 2014 but for the gun debate in Washington now—if McConnell feels threatened at home by his pro-gun stance, he might be more willing to move bills on universal background checks and other measures.