There are some new gun-related opinion polls out in the last couple days. They indicate further movement on the part of the public away from sentiment for more gun control laws. So let’s grab our calculators and dive right in . . .
Since Newtown, civilian disarmament advocates (including certain members of my own family) have been using the bandwagon argument to try to get gun owners on board with the idea of giving up some of their Constitutionally protected rights in order to “protect the children.” They’d justify the push by pointing out that “most of America agrees with me,” that all they want is “common sense gun control.” Well, now the groupthink line is working in our favor.
According to a USA Today poll, support for increased gun control legislation has dropped back down to around 49%. Let’s put that in a little perspective:
Pre-Newtown gun control support: 43% (Gallup)
Immediate Post-Newtown Support: 58% (Gallup)
Current: 49% (USA Today)
So we’re not quite back down to the pre-Newtown numbers yet, but support for gun control is definitely taking a nosedive. I get the feeling that seeing the horrors that Congress cooked up in the wake of the shooting (“assault weapons” ban, magazine capacity restrictions, universal background checks, gunpowder regulation) provided a useful reality check that tempered the nation’s desire to “do something.”
One of the reasons that the appetite for increased gun control is dropping faster than condom wrappers in Amsterdam’s Red Light District is that gun owners are winning the culture war. A new poll by the Washington Post shows that, for the first time in recent memory, the majority of Americans feel that having a gun in their home makes them safer. No doubt the recent events in Boston, where terrorists engaged in running gun battles with police in the middle of a residential neighborhood, had something to do with that outcome.
Which leads me to my second poll of the week, namely a Fox News survey that shows the NRA having a higher approval rating than the Democratic Party.
The problem with a question like this is that it cuts both ways: those who look unfavorably on the NRA and the Democrats could be doing so either because their position on gun control went too far, or didn’t go far enough. So, it’s basically a wash from an analytic standpoint. But it gives you the warm fuzzies anyway, doesn’t it?
Similarly vague is a poll from the WaPo that shows the majority of respondents disapproving of the way President Obama is handling gun control. The only good thing we can take away from these kinds of numbers is that people are unhappy about the way Washington is handling things, and when that happens incumbent politicians have a good reason to fear for their jobs.
Finally, the icing on the cake: the actual numbers of those who are peeved that the Senate didn’t pass additional gun control measures, as reported by the Washington Post.
While the country may be split on this, that Washington Post poll shows that there is still some support out there for assault weapons bans, magazine capacity limits and background checks.
President Obama claimed that 90% of the country wanted this specific legislation to pass, which is what’s commonly known as a lie. 90% of Americans thought background checks per se were a good idea, but that’s a far cry from supporting the proposed legislation. Heck, I support background checks, but I still broke out the champagne when the Senate vote failed.
Many low-information voters (again, like certain family members) simply saw “universal background checks” and never dug any further into the details. Those people, ones that were specifically targeted by President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg, and the Democratic Party’s advertising campaigns (which purposefully kept the content of the legislation vague) make up a large percentage of the people who are now “disappointed” or “angry” that the legislation didn’t pass, and will no doubt blame the Republicans for obstructing a “common sense” measure. But among Republican voters, 51% are relieved or very happy that the legislation failed to pass. That puts red state Dems in a very awkward position for the 2014 elections, since their votes are now on the record and will no doubt be a pain point used by NRA campaigns.
No matter how many Democrats are mad about this specific bill’s failure, the fact remains that it isn’t something that they’re willing to be a single-issue voter about. Democrats, by and large, don’t actually care about guns. They’d like to see more restrictions, but recent polls show only about 4% of them place it as their top priority when it comes to new legislation.
On the other side of the coin, there are people like myself. Those who used to vote for candidates based on a wide array of factors, and were as happy to vote Democrat as Republican, but who have now become single issue voters using gun control as the litmus test. And those pissed off voters are the ones that will make all the difference in 2014.