Americans are fed up with politicians who do nothing to stop the epidemic of gun violence across the country. These sentiments were felt even more acutely after a shooting in Pennsylvania which led Democratic lawmakers to introduce several sensible gun safety bills that were blocked by the Republican majority.

Since the state was narrowly won by Trump, all eyes were on Pennsylvania during the 2018 midterms. Democrats knew they had a winning message on gun safety and the State Senate Democratic Campaign Committee helped their candidates run on it and deliver a message for real gun reform to voters. They needed to reach soft Republicans who were also gun safety supporters. Because Republicans blocked recent legislation, the SDCC identified 9 State Senate Districts that had the potential to flip.

DSPolitical developed a campaign that focused on messaging around closing the gun show loophole and banning assault rifles — two of the bills that were blocked by the Republicans.

To find voters who could be motivated to vote on the issue of gun safety, DSPolitical used the Catalist Gun Control Support Model which was built using polling data from multiple large national datasets. It was used along with the Vote Choice Index and turnout models to find an audience that would most likely shift their support to Democratic candidates who backed the blocked gun safety measures.

It worked! The messaging and engaging creative from the campaign’s media consultant paid off. Of the nine seats targeted, Democrats won five. Impressively, Democrats also swept all statewide races and increased the party’s share of the state’s House delegation.