Fred Barnes thinks so. http://www.weeklystandard.com/gunning-for-hillary/article/2006969
There are many claimants to the honor of having nudged Donald Trump over the top in the presidential election. But the folks with the best case are the National Rifle Association and the consultants who made their TV ads.
The NRA did just about everything right. It endorsed Trump last May when he was still just the de facto nominee. The goal was to persuade Second Amendment supporters who’d backed other candidates to unify behind him.
The NRA planned ahead. It had lined up TV time months beforehand when rates were lower. That saved money. Thus when the Access Hollywood tape threatened to capsize the Trump campaign a month before the election, the NRA had cash on hand for a fresh ad to steady Trump.
And the NRA kept track of every word Hillary Clinton uttered on the subject of guns. This wasn't new. It's what an interest group does. Once she was the Democratic nominee, they were ready to shred her claim to back the Second Amendment and the right of women to own guns.
Democrats helped too. They made the mistake of going on offense on gun control. They were playing with fire. But the issue proved irresistible after Terry McAuliffe stressed gun control in his successful race for governor of Virginia in 2013. McAuliffe didn't get any gun restrictions passed, but he hooked Democrats. Next was the former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. He poured millions into Senate races in 2014, tightening the Democratic party's attachment to gun control.
"That's when the politics changed on the Democratic side," says Brad Todd of OnMessage, the Republican firm that created the ads for the NRA. They softened the image of gun owners by featuring women. The ads were cleverly sequenced, the final one suggesting Clinton would create a Supreme Court majority opposed to the right of individuals to own guns.