Poll: Debate on Gun Control Likely to Shape Midterm Elections

Gun show at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. (Photo credit: M&R Glasgow/Wikipedia)

(CN) – A week after 17 people were killed in a shooting at a Florida high school, a new poll finds that a large majority of Americans favor stricter gun-control laws.

In a Marist Poll survey released Friday, 71 percent of respondents said laws concerning gun sales should be strengthened. Unlike the partisan divide found with many other topics, a majority of both Republicans (51 percent) and Democrats (93 percent) said they’d like to see tougher gun laws.

“Americans are experiencing a heated debate over gun policy in the wake of the latest school shooting,” said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a written statement. “What jumps out in the findings is that there is not only widespread support for gun reform, but it has become a voting issue for gun reform advocates, especially women.”

Eight out of 10 women said they favor stronger gun-control laws, compared to 60 percent of men.

The Parkland, Florida, shooting seems to have cemented gun control as an important topic for the midterm elections. Among registered voters, 85 percent said their vote will be influenced by the candidates’ position on gun laws. Of those, 59 percent said it will be a major factor in their decision, as opposed to 26 percent who consider it a minor factor.

As the topic of semi-automatic rifles has been brought up in the days since the Feb. 14 shooting, more than half of those polled (54 percent) said they would vote for a congressional candidate who supports a ban on such weapons.

Additionally, a slim majority of registered voters (51 percent) said they would vote against a candidate who had received campaign donations from the National Rifle Association. Since the Stoneman Douglas shooting, several businesses have cut ties to the gun lobbying group.

“Last week’s shooting revitalized the debate over gun policy,” Miringoff said. “If this intensity of debate continues to shape discourse through the midterms, candidates running for office will need to pay careful attention to the issue.”

President Donald Trump continues to hold a low job approval rating, 13 months into his term. Only 38 percent approve of how the president is handling the job, compared to 54 percent who disapprove.

In the generic congressional ballot, Democrats hold an advantage, at 46 percent, compared to 39 percent who say they will vote for the Republican candidate in the 2018 midterms. The controversial topic of gun control seems to working in the Democrats’ favor, according to Miringoff.

“In past elections, Democrats have steered clear of gun reform, and Republicans were eager to trumpet their position,” Miringoff said. “Right now, it’s the Democrats that have the advantage on the issue among voters.”

 

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