Gun giveaways through online sweepstakes “have become one of the most useful tools for campaign outreach in the 2014 Republican primaries,” reports the New York Times. Across the country, from a race for sheriff in California to the United States Senate primary in South Carolina, candidates are using high-powered pistols and rifles as a lure to build up their donor lists and expand their base of support.
The method may be new, but the concept is a durable campaign device. Those who enter gun sweepstakes often are solicited for contact information, then for support and money for a candidate. The NRA, which has been doing Publishers Clearinghouse-style gun sweepstakes since the 1980s, figured out the allure of free guns years ago. Instead of direct mail, it now employs a range of online campaigns, including Facebook-based contests that provide the organization with information-rich public profiles and lists of their friends. Millions of people have entered these contests, the group said.