Gun control advocates were stunned late Tuesday to find themselves on the losing side of an effort to recall two state senators over their support of gun control legislation. One Democratic polling organization did not even publish one finding that recall supporters would win big, because it could not believe the results.
Colorado Senate Leader John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron were successfully removed from office in the state's first recall elections. Recall supporters were upset that they helped pass a gun control bill limiting the size of gun magazines to 15 bullets. Colorado's legislation was one among a number of efforts to pass gun control legislation after last year's Sandy Hook school massacre.
Morse lost by about two percentage points – 50.96 percent to 49.04 percent. Giron lost by about 12 percentage points – 56.01 percent to 43.99 percent.
Giron was the more surprising of the two because she was expected to be the most difficult to recall. She won election by 10 percentage points. Her district, which covers Pueblo, is about evenly divided between Republicans, Democrats and independents. And, the district supported President Barack Obama by almost 20 percentage points.
Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling organization, conducted a poll last week showing Giron losing by 12 percentage points, her eventual loss margin. The organization did not trust the results, though, and decided not to publish them.
In a blog post on the organization's website, PPP Director Tom Jensen explained the decision this way: "In a district that Barack Obama won by almost 20 points I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll. It turns out we should have had more faith in our numbers because she was indeed recalled by 12 points."
In an interview with Reuters, Morse claimed he had no regrets.
"I said at the time if it costs me my political career, so be it," he said. "That's nothing compared to what the families of (gun violence) victims go through every single day. We did the right thing."
Morse also argued that his loss was due to the efforts of the National Rifle Association.
The NRA spent $368,000 on the two races, which was most of the $500,000 in total spending from those who favored the recall. The pro-gun-control groups that opposed the recall spent $3 million, including a personal check of $350,000 from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bernie Herpin, the former Colorado Springs councilman who defeated Morse, believes that the large amounts of spending from outside groups on the pro-gun-control side may have backfired.
"In Colorado, we don't need some New York billionaire telling us what size soft drinks we can have, how much salt to put on our food, or the size of the ammunition magazines on our guns," he said.