Both Mr. Morse and Ms. Giron lost.
While this is now understandably being portrayed as a huge victory for the NRA, I think the issue is far more involved than that. Most notably, that's because the campaign against one of two Democrats in particular was made significatnly less about their gun votes than comparisons of their voting records on other issues to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. A Koch Brothers (tm) effort, for instance, focused heavily on John Morse's voting record with taxes and health care -- and their similarity to that New Yorker Bloomberg -- and largely ignored guns. A law enforcement group favored the recall by focusing on their disagreement with the State Senate president's positions about prison terms, sentencing guidelines and the number of prisoners in in state prisons.
Further, both candidates were among the most vulnerable in the state because of their district makeup. Though a Democrat, John Morse represented an especially-conservative district. Indeed, it's important to note that two other Democratic legislators were targeted for recall because of their gun control votes, yet opponents couldn't muster enough signatures.
In addition, a court ruling blocked the use of "voting by mail," something that is not only standard (and a heavily-used) practice in Colorado -- but just this year, the state had passed a law that required mail ballots be available to all voters for all elections, including recalls.
Moreover, there were widespread charge of "extreme" voter intimidation. "We had to call the police on a van of four huge guys staking out our staging location," a canvasser told the Huffington Post. "Volunteers are being followed, threatened, having their pictures taken and yelled at. We're now being told that it's bad enough to call 911 immediately."
None of this is to suggest that it wasn't a defeat to two gun safety advocates. It was. But there are just so many other oddities at play here that a simplistic look at the situation is just that: simplistic.
For instance, Colorado is the state of two of the deadliest gun massacres in U.S. history -- Columbine and Aurora, events that had profound, galvanizing impact on gun-control attitudes in the states. A very recent Quinnipiac poll showed that 82% of Colorado voters supported expanded background checks when buying guns. What voters were divided over was the issue of 15-round magazines.
Adding to the complexities of simplifying one's analysis is that recall elections are rarely a litmus test of how the general populace feels about anything. Voter turnout for recall votes is always exceeding low. It's how in California, Governor Gray Davis was recalled and film actor Arnold Schwarzenegger became the new governor.
Underlying all of this, though, is another critically important and ongoing issue.
It's how the far right keeps showing that it is against the democratic process of elections.
No one accused either of the recall candidates of any malfeasance or breaking their pledges or...well, anything. It's just that the far right didn't like how legally elected officials voted during their term of office. So, rather than waiting until they were up for re-election (which is sort of how elections are supposed to go, their very point), the far right wanted to get them out of office early. It's what we see with the conservative-led Republican Party time and time and time again.
If you don't like Bill Clinton, impeach him. If you don't like that black man in the White House, raise a clamor to impeach him. But first, try to convince the public he's not even legitimately elected. If you don't like the governor of California and want to gt a Republican in office, recall him -- but first manipulate electric bills so that they're too high, If too many minorities and young people are voting early, stop early voting. If too many minorities are voting, period, create new Voter ID laws to impede them. If too many Democrats are getting elected in your state, gerrymander the districts to put a cap on that. If you don't like how state legislators voted on gun control, don't wait until their term is up, recall them. And on and on and on.
And on and on.
Here's the bottomline:
When a political party makes manipulating the election process its core issue for increasing its power, rather than being able to come up with actual issues that the public will support -- that's when you know that the party is an empty, vacuous shell.