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Is the NRA’s electoral might a myth?

More surprising that day was the failure of the Manchin-Toomey background check expansion, which in some national polls was supported by more than 80 percent of respondents.

Taken together, the votes seemed to reconfirm one of the most commonly held and oft-repeated beliefs in American politics: When it comes to gun policy, there’s no beating the National Rifle Association, which had lobbied heavily against the legislation.

A counter-narrative is developing, however, one portraying the power of the NRA as a self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuated by unsupported assumptions, not quantifiable evidence.

Both views of the NRA may be valid at once. While evidence of the gun lobby’s electoral impact is less compelling than assumed, the political class’ belief in the group’s power in electoral campaigns has historically given it significant legislative influence.

Even so, changes may be coming. As a re-energized gun control movement emerges, buoyed by the largess of groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the shocking nature of recent shootings, the NRA could find itself challenged to a degree never before seen.

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