“The National Rifle Association has downgraded its ratings of 15 Republicans in federal and statewide races this election cycle, according to a Trace analysis of the gun group’s 2018 candidate ratings. That’s a sharp increase over previous cycles, indicating that while the NRA maintains a tight grip on the GOP, more Republican candidates are willing to risk the group’s ire by supporting gun control measures.
“Every election season, the NRA assigns letter grades to thousands of candidates in state and federal races nationwide. This grading system has become a notorious indicator of a politician’s fealty — or opposition — to the influential group. The grades can make or break campaigns.
“Of the 15 downgraded Republicans, more than half were docked two full grades or more. In contrast, the NRA downgraded just six Republicans in 2016, and only one of those involved a swing of more than one letter grade. The 2014 and 2012 election cycles saw eight and seven GOP candidates downgraded, respectively — only three of whom involved swings of more than one grade.”