Gun rights on the ballot: Midterm election mega-thread

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

****UPDATE 12:26 ****

Well, the cocktails have been quaffed and this will be my last update of the evening. Decision Desk HQ reports that Lauren Boebert is trailing in CO-03 48-52 with more than 90% of the vote estimated to have been counted, but the NYTimes is still projecting Boebert as the odds-on favorite to win the race, predicting that the majority of the outstanding vote are in precincts that should be in her favor. If Boebert is defeated gun control activists will rightfully pat themselves on the back for unseating an outspoken Second Amendment advocate, even if it ends up being a pyrrhic victory with Republicans in control of the House… an outcome that’s also still in doubt unfortunately.

While gun control activists weren’t  unable to unseat Greg Abbott, Ron DeSantis, Brian Kemp, or any other pro-Second Amendment governor, it looks like gun owners weren’t able to defeat Kathy Hochul in New York (who’s projected to win a full four year term as governor though by a much slimmer margin than Andrew Cuomo received four years ago) or Michelle Lujan Grisham in New Mexico. Several other gubernatorial races remain too close to call, including Arizona, where the Senate race is also still too close too call but unsettlingly so, with Mark Kelly up 58-40 over Blake Masters with an estimated 50% of the vote counted.

Iowa will officially enshrine the right to keep and bear arms in the state constitution, with Amendment 1 projected to win by a wide margin. In fact, at the moment there’s a good chance that Johnson County will lay claim to being the only county in the state to vote against the amendment. Gov. Kim Reynolds has also won re-election; another governor who signed Constitutional Carry into law and was rewarded by voters this cycle.

I wish that I could declare Oregon’s Measure 114 to be defeated, but unfortunately the outcome is still very much in the air with the measure at 51% support and an estimated 54% of the vote counted. Because the state allows for mail-in ballots postmarked on Election Day to arrive up to seven days from today, it may very well be next week before we learn the outcome. You can follow the latest results here, but I’m headed to bed still cautiously optimistic that the gun control initiative can be defeated outright.

We’ll have a lot more to say on Wednesday morning, and I’d encourage you to take part in our weekly live chat with Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey and myself at 1:30 ET. This is normally for our VIP Gold members, but we’re bringing out from behind the paywall tomorrow and I can’t wait to talk about these perplexing and in some cases vexing results with Ed and you in just a few hours.

 

****UPDATE 11:28****

The good news? There’s actually plenty of it. J.D. Vance is projected to win the U.S. Senate seat in Ohio; an important hold if the GOP is to gain the majority. Ted Budd is projected to hold the Senate seat from North Carolina, and Eric Schmitt will hold Missouri’s Senate seat as well. Amendment 1 in Iowa is ahead 65-35 with 69% of the anticipated vote reported, and will easily pass despite the objections of those like the sheriff in Linn County.

The bad news? Well, there’s plenty of that as well. Maggie Hassan is projected to win re-election to the Senate from New Hampshire, Michelle Lujan Grisham is projected to win re-election in New Mexico, Kathy Hochul looks to be in good shape for a full four year term as governor, and there could be a major upset brewing in CO-03, where Lauren Boebert is currently trailing Democrat Adam Frisch 48-52 with 74% of the vote in.

In Oregon, 40% of the estimated vote is in, and Measure 114 is currently ahead by a small margin, 51.3-48.7. I’m sticking with my vague prediction that Measure 114 could easily go down to defeat, but if it’s approved it won’t be by the 80-90% margins that gun control activists claim to have for their policies.

Republicans are still in the driver’s seat to capture the House, but I did get a little ahead of myself in my last post by saying gun owners could rest easy. Until all the votes have been counted and the GOP majority certified, it’s too early to celebrate (no matter how many libations one might have consumed over the course of Election Night).

****UPDATE 10:53****

We’re starting to see results on the Iowa ballot measure that would enshrine the right to keep and bear arms in the state constitution, and it looks like it will win handily. With 40% of the vote in Amendment 1 leads by 62-38, and in Polk County (home to a substantial portion of the state’s electorate) the measure is ahead 53-47 with nearly 75% of the vote already in. Liberal Linn County has yet to report any numbers, however, so the race could still tighten up, but I don’t think it’s going to be particularly close in the end.

Evidence of a good but not great night for the GOP continues to mount, with Republicans set to take control of the House but the outcome of the Senate still undecided. So far the GOP has gained a net of seven seats in the House, but tantalizing pick-up opportunities in districts like VA-07 appear to have fallen just out of reach. Still, a small majority is still large enough to prevent any new gun control legislation from moving forward, so from a purely Second Amendment perspective gun owners can breathe a little easier tonight, even if the results so far aren’t quite the blockbuster that Republicans were hoping for.

****UPDATE 9:35****

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are projected to hold on to their seats (the Texas gpvernor’s race called by Fox News), though that likely won’t put an end to Stacey Abrams’ political career. Robert Francis O’Rourke, on the other hand, is probably (Texas) toast at this point, at least when it comes to electoral politics.

So far this evening we’ve seen evidence of a good night for Republicans, but signs of an historic wave of epic proportions are few and far between outside of Florida. Still, I’m not seeing any inklings of a Democrat upset brewing at the moment; instead we have a lot of tight Senate races (as expected) and Republicans appear to be meeting or outperforming expectations in most House races.

****UPDATE 8:24 ET****

The first of many Election Night cocktails has been poured and the first of many  gun control dreams have been shattered, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio projected to hold on to their seats, and by wide margins. Charlie Crist campaigned on banning “assault weapons” if elected while DeSantis vowed to sign Constitutional Carry, and of the two options Florida voters are picking the candidate who’s pledging to respect their right to bear arms in self-defense. Gun control advocates will point to the election of anti-gun activist Maxwell Frost in their post-election spin, but if Frost didn’t win in the Democratic stronghold of FL-10 then we’d be looking at a red wave of downright biblical proportions.

In New Hampshire, Constitutional Carry proved to be no burden to Chris Sununu’s re-election campaign, though at the moment U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc isn’t benefitting from any of Sununu’s popularity. In fact, he’s currently running about 13 points behind Sununu, which could provide Maggie Hassan with enough of a margin to retain her seat.

In the earlygoing we haven’t seen any real shockers one way or the other, but one theme is already starting to emerge: Support for the Second Amendment, including Constitutional Carry, isn’t costing candidates, and support for gun control isn’t carrying any Democrat to a surprise victory.

Original post below:

 

While it’s technically the case that Second Amendment issues are only on the ballot in two states (Iowa and Oregon), the truth is that the outcome of the campaigns for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state legislatures, governor, attorney general, and a host of other elected offices will have a big impact on the fight to secure our Second Amendment rights going forward.

We’re highlighting several of those races below, with real-time updates from our Townhall Media election partners at Decision Desk HQ, and I’ll be popping into this thread periodically throughout the evening to provide some commentary and analysis as well. The newest post will appear at the top of this story, so just keep scrolling to read earlier updates.

Below are some of the most important races for gun owners, starting with the U.S. Senate, followed by the House, governor, attorney general, and the two Second Amendment-specific ballot measures.

U.S. Senate

Keep an eye on the New Hampshire numbers for signs that Republicans are either under or overperforming expectations. Gen. Don Bolduc trailed Democrat incumbent Maggie Hassan by a sizable margin throughout much of the campaign, but polls over the past few weeks have the race neck-and-neck. Bolduc is still running 10-15 points behind Republican Gov. Chris Sununu’s own re-election bid in polling, but if Sununu has any coattails tonight that could put Bolduc in position to pull of an early upset and set the tone for the evening.

The Pennsylvania Senate race seems to be going Dr. Mehmet Oz’s way, which would be a huge set back to Democratic hopes of keeping the Senate by denying them a seat they thought they would flip. Keeping John Fetterman out of office means one less reliable for gun control, though voters will still be replacing one Republican senator who’s squishy on Second Amendment issues with one who promises not to be squishy in the future.

We’ll have to wait until late tonight (at least for us East Coasters) before we get news out of Arizona, where Republican Blake Masters has a solid chance of defeating incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly. The Democrat has done everything he could to avoid bringing up gun control despite having co-founded the anti-2A group Giffords; odd given the fact that Giffords’ own executive director claims that this is the election that proved its safe for Democrats to run on gun control. This race, like New Hampshire, has also tightened considerably in polling in the past couple of weeks, and Masters looks to have the momentum heading into Election Day.

U.S. House 

The first race below will list the running tally of House seats for each party, but I’ll also throw in a couple of states to watch that might provide some clues about the size of any red wave. My first bellweather to watch in the House is New York, where many conservatives are extra-fired up after Democrats responded to the Bruen decision by trying to criminalize their right to carry. I anticipate turnout will be higher than normal in rural New York, but concern over crime could erode Democrats’ numbers even in suburban and urban strongholds. In particular, I’ll be watching NY-20; a D+7 district according to the Cook Political Report. Democrat incumbent Paul Tomko won four years ago by more than 20 points (61-38), and this year’s race is a rematch featuring Republican Elizabeth Joy. If Joy ends up winning outright Democrats are going to be looking at some staggering losses in seats they thought were safe.

The other early stateI’m highlighting is Virginia, where a red wave swept Republicans into every statewide office and control of the state House of Delegates last year. Has that wave subsided or grown over the past twelve months? Pay close attention to VA-02, where Democrat incumbent Elaine Luria is facing Republican challenger (and state Senator) Jennifer Kiggans in a district that’s R+2 according to the Cook Political Report. Luria was first elected in the blue wave election of 2018 and won re-election by six points in 2020. A Kiggans win would be a sign that Democrats are going to have trouble hanging on to many of their suburban swing districts, but if Luria hangs on it would indicate that a red wave might be smaller than expected.

Governor

I don’t expect many of the races below to be particularly close, with the exception of New York, where Gov. Kathy Hochul is unfortunately favored to win a full four-year term, though with nowhere near the 22-point margin of victory that Andrew Cuomo received four years ago. Based on pre-election polling, it would be a shocking upset if Robert Francis O’Rourke wins in Texas, Stacey Abrams ekes out a victory in Georgia, or Nan Whaley comes from out of nowhere to unseat Mike DeWine in Ohio. Instead, it’s likely to be an early evening for these gun control darlings. If it’s not, gun owners should be very concerned that something’s gone terribly wrong.

Attorney General

The winners of today’s elections will be filing amicus briefs in support or opposition to our Second Amendment rights, so it would be great to add to the 28 Republican AGs this evening. Of course, it would also be nice if the Democratic AG candidates were equally as supportive of our right to keep and bear arms, but that’s definitely not the case this year. Some key races to watch are Michigan, Nevada, and New York, all of which feature Democratic incumbents at some risk of being unseated. In Arizona, meanwhile, Democrats are hoping to pick up an open seat currently held by Republican Mark Brnovich.

I don’t have cool little widgets for our last two races, but I’ll provide links to the reported numbers instead. In Iowa, Constitutional Amendment 1 would enshrine the right to keep and bear arms into the state constitution and require judges to review challenged gun laws through the lens of strict scrutiny. There’s been limited polling on the issue, but given the political leanings of the state it should be handily approved by voters.

The outcome for Oregon’s Measure 114, on the other hand, is very much in doubt, with the most recent poll in the state showing opposition to the gun control measure slightly outpacing support. The ballot measure would impose a ban on “large capacity” magazines as well as creating a new “permit-to-purchase” system requiring additional background checks and mandated training before being legally able to purchase a firearm. The measure has received millions of dollars in donations from gun control groups, but an unlikely coalition of conservative gun owners, Oregon sheriffs, and progressive gun owners have been making their own grassroots arguments against the ballot measure and seem to be making inroads. If Measure 114 goes down to defeat it will send shockwaves throughout the gun control lobby, but even if it passes I don’t think it will be approved by the 80-to-90% of voters that gun control activists claim support their anti-2A initiatives.

Des Moines Register – Constitutional Amendment 1 Election Results

NBC News – Oregon Measure 114 Election Results

Check back in throughout the evening for periodic updates to this post, and tune in tomorrow for my weekly live chat with Hot Air’s Ed Morrissey where we’ll be breaking down all of tonight’s results. We’re even bringing it out from behind the VIP Gold paywall to share with all of our readers, so join us at 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday for the liveliest live chat of the year!