Behold: A major news organization has declared that the National Rifle Association is "winning the influence battle over gun control." That is the conclusion of one Bruce Rogers, chief "insights" officer for Forbes, who backs up his claims with input from Appinions, a data mining company that scans 5 million media sources — blogs, social networks, newspapers, magazines — for evidence of public influence, then quantifies it. The study examined six weeks of material, beginning the week prior to the Newtown, Conn., shootings.
"We found that the NRA and the pro-gun-rights voices are winning the influence battle and will continue to be strong and more influential if the pro gun control voice remains fragmented. On the flip side, the pro gun control voices could certainly gain influence if they establish a more united voice," Mr. Rogers says.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint. It seems the NRA has the stamina to out-run the pro-gun-control movement. They are persistent, unyielding and gaining influence. It will be interesting to see how the pro-gun-control voice responds and how the influence between the two groups changes as the debate persists," Mr. Rogers continues. "The pro-gun-rights voice is rapidly gaining influence while the pro-gun-control voice has tapered in recent weeks. Momentum is shifting and the gun control debate is becoming a platform benefiting gun rights advocates."
This contentious battleground is manned by succinct teams.
"Republican politicians are missing from the debate," observes Mr. Rogers, declaring it "an influence battle between President Barack Obama's Democrats and Wayne LaPierre's NRA. ... The pro-gun control group is fragmented whereas the pro-gun-rights voice is united and strong."
NRA 'NARROW ADVANTAGE'
And a little more affection for the National Rifle Association: "Despite majority support for stricter gun-control laws in general, and overwhelming support for some specific measures, the National Rifle Association may have at least a narrow advantage in the gun debate: More Americans continue to have a favorable view of the organization than an unfavorable one. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, 44 percent have a favorable view of the NRA, while 37 percent are unfavorable," the news organization reports of the survey, which was released Friday.
LET THE INFIGHTING BEGIN
Gentlemen, commence with the sword rattling. The Senate Conservatives Fund has attacked the Conservative Victory Project, a brand-new super PAC organized by American Crossroads, the sleek 2012 fundraising machine that boasted Karl Rove as point man. A New York Times account of it all paints a dire picture: "The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's efforts to win control of the Senate."
The new project has sparked sarcasm in the older grass-roots fund, founded in 2008 by then-Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, becoming an independent PAC last year.
"The Conservative Defeat Project is yet another example of the Republican establishment's hostility toward its conservative base," declares executive director Matt Hoskins. "Rather than listening to the grass-roots and working to advance their principles, the establishment has chosen to declare war on its party's most loyal supporters. It is a continuation of the establishment's effort to avoid blame for their horrible performance in the 2012 elections."
He continues, "They blew a ton of races up and down the ticket because they recruited moderate Republicans who didn't stand for anything. Now they want to use this new PAC to trick donors into giving them more money so they can lose more races."
Out of 27 Republican challengers in 2012 races, Mr. Hoskins adds, only a trio of "anti-establishment conservatives" were elected, all supported by the Senate Conservatives Fund: Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Deb Fischer of Nebraska.
THE GIPPER AT 102
They have not forgotten what would have been Ronald Reagan's 102nd birthday. The occasion will be celebrated with gusto on Wednesday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., with Rudolph W. Guiliani delivering the keynote remarks and Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, as a most dignified emcee. Also on hand: the 1st Marine Division Band, color guard, chaplain and a brass quintet, plus a 21-gun salute and the placing of an official White House wreath on Reagan's grave site.
There are some local Reagan revels as well. Americans for Prosperity chapters in Reagan's home state of Illinois will host a trio of events to celebrate the "champion of free markets and economic freedom." Meanwhile, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has proclaimed Wednesday "Ronald Reagan Day" across the Tar Heel State, while Ohio tea party members plan to meet at the Liberty Tavern in Powell to toast Reagan with orange blossoms. That's "gin and orange juice, his favorite drink," they explain.
POLL DU JOUR
• 38 percent of Americans say they are conservatives, 36 percent say they are moderates, 23 percent say they are liberals.
• 51 percent of Alabama residents are conservative, making it the nation's "top conservative state."
• 48.6 percent of North Dakota residents are conservative; tied with Wyoming and followed by Mississippi (48.2 percent) and Utah (48 percent).
• 42.7 percent of Alaska residents are moderate, making it the top moderate state, followed by Rhode Island (41.5 percent), Ohio (39.5 percent), Maryland (38.3 percent) and Massachusetts (38.1 percent).
• 41 percent of District of Columbia residents are liberals.
• 31 percent of Massachusetts resident are liberals, making it the top liberal state, followed by Oregon (29.3 percent), Vermont (29.3 percent) and Delaware (28.4 percent).
Source: A Gallup Tracking Poll of 211,972 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012, and released Friday.
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