Last Friday, the Obama campaign fired up its vaunted voter machine and urged supporters to call Congress in support of gun control. The email alert to Obama’s list of more than 20 million supporters was intended to flood Congress with calls in support of the President’s gun control proposals. After a week, it is clear the effort fizzled.
The Obama campaign’s action alert last week tickled lefty journalists like BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith. The White House stenographer took to twitter to boast about the mobilization.
So Messina unleashed the kraken on the congressional switchboard today
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 25, 2013
Yeah, not so much.
Breitbart News talked with a dozen Congressional offices, in both the Senate and the House. None reported any increase in calls as a result of Obama’s action alert. One Senate office said that, in the week since the alert went out, they had received around 20 calls in support of gun control and around 150 in support of gun rights.
Without a doubt, Obama has built an impressive turnout machine for elections. His campaign has vowed to use this to mobilize on issues important to the White House. This initial failure, however, suggests it will be difficult to translate voter’s personal support of the President to specific issues.
In the weeks since the tragic shooting in Newtown, Obama has used the full wattage of his bully pulpit to press for actions on guns. The media has provided a powerful assist by devoting enormous attention to guns and the issue of gun violence. Yet, Obama’s well-oiled machine can’t generate enthusiasm from his supporters on the issue.
This is further evidence of the fundamental challenge faced by supporters of gun control. While large numbers of voters say they support more restrictions on gun rights, they aren’t particularly motivated by the issue. It is merely one of many issues they support. Those who believe in gun rights, however, are singularly motivated on the issue. Not only is their vote determined by that issue, their level of political engagement is determined by it as well.
Not even Obama can fix that math.