Thursday, April 17, 2014
G.O.P. Campaign Outreach Tool: Gun Sweepstakes
Hand over your email address to a political campaign, and typically all you can expect in return is an endless stream of solicitations for money.
But one supporter of Greg Brophy, a state senator who ran for governor in Colorado, got something else: a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle.
It was the top prize in “Greg Brophy’s Gun Club Giveaway,” an online contest last month in which people handed over personal information that is the currency of modern political campaigns — first and last names, email addresses and phone numbers — and in exchange, one lucky winner would get the gun.
“I tricked this baby out,” said Mr. Brophy, a Republican, boasting about how he had added all manner of accessories — extra grips, a backup sight and a strap so it could be slung effortlessly over the shoulder.
Online gun sweepstakes have become one of the most useful tools for campaign outreach in the 2014 Republican primaries.
The National Rifle Association, which has been doing Publishers Clearinghouse-style gun sweepstakes since the 1980s, figured out the allure of free guns years ago. Back then, it used direct mail. Now, it employs a range of online campaigns, including Facebook-based contests that provide the organization not just with people’s names, but also with their information-rich public profiles and lists of their friends. Millions of people have entered these contests, the group said.