What Role Did Gun Rights Play in the Presidential Electoral Results?
Reader Jake Burch writes: Media and pundits have pointed to many causes for Donald Trump’s unexpected victory. Largely ignored: the extent to which the issue of gun control vs. gun rights played a significant role in the outcome. While correlation does not mean causation, it’s worth looking at the difference in the performance of Trump and Hillary Clinton in states that are gun-friendly compared to those that aren’t.
To do that, we need a simple binary measure of whether a state can be considered gun-friendly. Looking at the electoral map, the similarity to my North Carolina concealed carry reciprocity map was obvious. [Reciprocity data taken from handgunlaw.us]
North Carolina’s permit requirements are fairly typical. So North Carolina reciprocity is a reasonably positive indicator of a state’s gun-friendliness. How about negative indicators? Universal background checks beyond federal requirements and magazine capacity restrictions have been the focus of recent encroachments on gun rights.
For this exercise, let’s define “gun-friendly” to mean:
– The state recognized the North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit for all of 2016. (Sorry, Virginia, you were scratched because your attorney general played games earlier in the year.)
– The state doesn’t have and has not passed a universal background check law
– The state doesn’t have and has not passed magazine capacity restrictions
Thirty-eight states honored North Carolina’s CHP all of 2016. However, among these:
– Washington has universal background checks in place
– Nevada just passed universal background checks
– Colorado has magazine restrictions
That leaves thirty-five gun-friendly states by our definition. The animation at the top compares the electoral results map to the “gun-friendly” map.
Clinton won every state that isn’t gun-friendly but only four of thirty-five states that are (Delaware, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Vermont). Trump won no states that are not gun-friendly. Clinton and Trump split gun-friendly Maine’s electoral votes.
Once again, correlation does not mean causation, but the strong correlation between a state’s gun rights stance and the electoral results certainly deserves more attention than it has received.