Poll shows gun control fading in importance for midterm voters

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Democrats from Joe Biden on down may be hoping that Americans’ concern about crime and public safety will lead them to vote for the party of gun control this November, but a new Monmouth Poll should provide a reality check for anti-gun politicians. According to the survey, gun control is actually less important to the electorate than it was four years ago.

The survey wasn’t open ended, instead asking respondents to choose the most important issue between six different choices; the economy, abortion, health care, immigration, gun control, and taxes. Crime wasn’t even included as an option, which I find a little odd, but the inclusion of gun control should have served as a proxy… at least for those voters who believe that the best way to reduce crime is by restricting the right to keep and bear arms. As it turns out, fewer Americans call gun control their top issue today than they did back in 2018.

It’s no real shock that the economy would be the most important issue, and given the media attention given to the leaked draft of the Dobbs opinion overturning Roe v. Wade I’m not too surprised that abortion is a close second at the moment. The Supreme Court’s pending decision in the New York right to carry case will turn Democrats’ attention back towards gun control, especially with politicians like Eric Adams trying to scare the bejeebers out of New Yorkers about the prospect of having to recognize the right to bear arms in self-defense, but even then I doubt that gun control is suddenly going to become a top priority for midterm voters.

It’s also important to note the ideological makeup of those who said gun control is their top issue this year. How many of those respondents say that because they want more gun laws on the books versus those whose biggest priority is beating back Joe Biden’s anti-Second Amendment agenda? According to Monmouth, it’s a roughly 50-50 split.

The two-point difference between Democratic and Republican interest in gun control as a top election issue is so small that it’s within the poll’s margin of error, which is bad news for the party that routinely claims that their calls for universal background checks, bans on modern sporting rifles and 20+ round magazines, and so on are all “commonsense” measures supported by almost every American with a pulse. According to the Monmouth survey, voters this year are more inclined to vote for a generic Republicans than Democrat, which doesn’t make sense if we all secretly want more gun control laws.

With control of Congress at stake in the fall, voters are split on which party they want in charge. Currently, 36% of respondents favor Republicans while 34% want Democrats to hold Congress. When so-called “leaners” are included, the GOP leads on the generic ballot by 48% to 44%.

The poll also gave President Biden his lowest approval rating since taking office — 38%, down 16 percentage points from when he was sworn in last year. Appropriately, Biden’s 57% disapproval rating was its highest in the survey to date, up from the 30% disapproval in January 2021.

Democrats are hoping the Dobbs decision is going to blunt the effects of what could be a red wave election this November, but at the moment there’s not much evidence that’s going to be the case. Joe Biden is still incredibly unpopular, Americans are feeling the pain every time they fill up their gas tank or go to the grocery store, and though they are concerned about violent crime, not many of them believe we can gun control our way to public safety. The numbers may dance around a bit from poll to poll, but I think these are the fundamentals that are going to drag Democrats down at the ballot box come November.