CNN Poll: Dem voters place importance on gun policy, GOP voters on crime

AP Photo/Teresa Crawford

A new poll from CNN and polling outfit SSRS offers some interesting nuggets of info about what’s on the mind of voters ahead of the midterms, though obviously take this with as many grains of salt as you’d like.

The poll found Republicans and Democrats tied on the generic congressional ballot with 46% each, a drop of three points for the GOP and a gain of four points for Democrats. Interestingly, the poll found that neither Republicans or Democrats are paying attention to the issues that are of most importance to them.

Two-thirds of registered voters (67%) say that Democratic candidates for Congress in the area where they live aren’t paying enough attention to the country’s most important problems, with just 31% saying that these candidates have the right priorities. A similar 65% say that Republican candidates in their area aren’t paying enough attention to important national problems, with 33% saying that GOP congressional candidates have the right priorities.
Economic issues are currently voters’ central concern. Nearly 7 in 10 voters (69%) currently call the economy extremely important to their congressional vote, and 67% say the same of inflation. Smaller majorities place the same level of importance on voting rights and election integrity (61%), and gun policy (60%).
About half rate education (51%), abortion (50%) or crime (49%) as extremely important, and fewer say the same of immigration (42%), climate change (34%) or the coronavirus pandemic (26%). That focus on the economy has increased since earlier this year, even as the survey’s field period spanned a series of events including the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade, the passage of a new gun law and several hearings of the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
“Gun policy” is polling slightly higher than “crime” in terms of importance; something that appears to be the result of a distinct partisan divide. 69% of Democrats surveyed said that “gun policy” will be extremely important to their vote this year, while Independents (56%) and Republicans (54%) saw that as less important.
When the topic turned to crime, however, Democrats, at 41%, were far less likely to say it was an extremely important issue than Republicans. Almost two-thirds (62%) of GOP respondents said crime is an extremely important issue to them, with 45% of independent voters agreeing.
At the moment, gun control is seen as a more important issue to Democrats than abortion (69-63), which is somewhat surprising to me given that most of the protests aimed at the Supreme Court in recent weeks have revolved around the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade and not the Bruen decision striking down New York’s “may issue” laws.
The CNN poll also found that while 14% of survey respondents overall said that if they could pick just one issue they would want candidates for Congress to talk more about “gun policy,” that number jumped to 23% among Democrats. Republicans were decidedly cooler at just 5%; a number that presumably includes those single issue Second Amendment voters who want to hear more talk about expanding the right to keep and bear arms.
Overall the economy is still the most important issue by far on the minds of voters, with more than half picking the economy or inflation as the single-most important topic for candidates to talk about, though Democrats (at just 33%) were far less likely to agree with that sentiment than Independents (52%) and Republicans (70%).
It sure looks like Democrats are looking for anything to talk about other than the current state of the economy and the red-hot Bidenflation numbers that grow worse with every report, and gun control is their go-to at the moment. Still, with more than half of independent voters saying that “gun policy” is extremely important to them this year, Republicans ignore the issue at their own peril. Personally, I’d love to see candidates bring up New York’s new gun control laws and how they’re the model for what Democrats want to do nationwide.
We also need to hear about consequences of these laws; otherwise law-abiding gun owners being turned into felons and subjected to prison time for the “crime” of stepping foot into one of the Democrats’ many gun-free zones while armed, for instance. And hammer home the fact that the Democrats’ gun control ideology hasn’t made liberal bastions like Baltimore and Chicago any safer, which raises the question of why on earth we’d impose these same restrictions (many of which will undoubtably be found to be unconstitutional) at the federal level when we need to get serious about addressing violent crime, declining rates of arrest, and broken mental health and criminal justice systems that are failing their fundamental tasks. The economy is clearly the dominant issue for voters this election cycle, but gun control and crime aren’t far behind and shouldn’t be brushed aside by Republicans looking to ride a red wave to victory in November.