The National Rifle Association’s recent public turmoil is reportedly causing some major panic in the Trump campaign, with re-election officials worried they could be losing what was one of Trump’s most important supporters in 2016.
As Politico reported, the NRA aired an “avalanche” of television ads, and pushed its more than five million members to the polls to vote for Trump in the 2016 campaign, one of the earliest groups to throw its support behind the real estate mogul. But the gun lobby group has experienced some major turmoil in recent months, including a very public power struggle that led to some big changes in leadership and the closure of NRATV amid financial difficulties.
As the report noted, many Trump campaign officials and conservative leaders are concerned that the NRA may not be able to offer the major election-year boost to Republicans that it has done in the past.
“No organization has been more important to conservative voter education and engagement than the NRA. We all hope they’re able to mount the kind of effort in the 2020 cycle they have in the past,” said Gregg Keller, a former American Conservative Union executive director. “But in case they can’t, given their current situation, I hope they’re being forthright about that within the movement so others can pick up the slack.”
In the past, the NRA has also been active in pushing “Get out the vote” efforts, which were especially important for Donald Trump in 2016 when his margin of victor was razor-thin.
Some of the lost advantage from the NRA’s shaky situation could be offset by the large fundraising totals made by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. As CNN reported, the two groups collectively raised a total of $105 million in the second quarter of 2019 – $54 million for the Trump campaign and his committees, and $51 million for the RNC – which solidifies the early advantage Trump has over the group of 2020 Democratic hopefuls. Trump has merged his campaign operations with the RNC, which is leading field operations for his re-election hopes.
Donald Trump also has the advantage of a nearly three year start over his eventual Democratic opponent, as he started making campaign visits within weeks of taking office in 2017. Trump officially launched his campaign last month in Orlando.
NRA meltdown has Trump campaign sweating: “Infighting and accusations in the national media regarding the @NRA have not been helpful. It will have an impact in the NRA's ability to raise money, which would be used in elections to turn out its membership.” https://t.co/AMjJKLceQm
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) July 3, 2019
While Donald Trump and the RNC are pulling in big totals, fundraising on the Democratic side has been fractured between the 24 candidates in the race, with South Bend, Indiana mayor, Pete Buttigieg, reportedly bringing in the most of those so far with just under $25 million.