Poll: Voters trust Republicans on crime, Democrats on "gun violence"

(AP Photo/Mary Hudetz, File)

I’m used to treating individual polls with at least some degree of skepticism, but a new ABC News/Ipsos poll has left me scratching my head because it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

According to the new survey of adults, Republicans are more trusted on a number of key issues just months before the midterms, including the economy, gas prices, inflation, taxes, immigration, and crime, while Democrats are more trusted on abortion, climate change, COVID-19, and…. gun violence?

  • Roughly one-third of Americans trust Republicans to do a better job of handling key issues of the day, namely the economy, inflation, crime, and immigration. Around a quarter trust Democrats more on each of these issues.
  • Among the 35% of Americans who are very enthusiastic about voting in November, a similar pattern emerges. Republicans hold a double-digit advantage on trust over Democrats on these four issues.
  • On the other hand, Democrats retain an advantage on the coronavirus pandemic (also the only issue tested in this survey that President Biden has a positive approval rating on) and climate change.
  • However, across every single issue tested in the survey, roughly one-third of Americans – and nearly half of those who identify as independents – say they trust neither party on the issue.

I’m at somewhat of a loss to explain how voters can trust Republicans more to fight crime but not “gun violence,” given that “gun violence” is generally a subset of violent crimes. The only thing I can think of is that “gun violence” is seen as a proxy for “gun control” by many voters, but even that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. If you think that crime is best addressed through gun control, you’re likely to support Democrats on crime as well as “gun violence”, but that’s not really what the survey indicates. Democrats hold a 34-29 advantage with voters on “gun violence,” but the GOP holds a much more commanding 11-point lead on the issue of crime, with adults favoring Republicans 32-21.

The poll also asked about Joe Biden’s approval on the same issues, and found virtually no bounce in approval for the president when it comes to either crime or “gun violence” despite the fact that he recently signed the “Bipartisan Safer Communities Act” into law, marking the first new gun control legislation to be approved by Congress in several decades.

According to the survey, Biden’s approval on crime is underwater at 38-61, which is unchanged from the last time ABC/Ipsos asked the question in June. Biden’s also in negative territory when it comes to his approval in handling “gun violence” with 35% approval and 64% disapproving; also unchanged from early June.

The ABC/Ipsos poll did find that the enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democrat voters has largely disappeared, though not entirely. About 3 in 4 Republicans say they’re very or somewhat enthusiastic about voting this fall, compared to 68% of Democrats and just under half of independent voters. Over at Hot Air, my friend and colleague Ed Morrissey calls the poll bad news for Biden and congressional Democrats, especially after the media has spent much of the summer arguing that Biden has gotten his groove back.

So much for those media narratives, eh? Biden’s RCP aggregate average has bounced back over the last two months, but only to the same level it was in June. It has actually tailed off slightly in the last couple of days again, though, which hints that we may be seeing what we used to call a dead-cat bounce. Biden may have hit his floor over the last two months but he’s not coming up off of it much, and neither are his fellow Democrats. Voters see past the narratives and spin because they’re mired in the misery Biden and his team have created.

The economic woes and belt-tightening that many American families are experiencing right now aren’t going to subside between now and November, and there’s a pretty good chance that the declining gas prices are going to shoot up again before the midterms, especially if the Biden administration sticks with its timeline to impose further sanctions on Russia which are expected to take effect in December.

A full ban of cargo shipments of Russian oil to Europe is set to take hold on Dec. 5, with the market expected to factor in its impact much sooner.

The sanctions would be accompanied by a ban on insuring ships that carry Russian oil, preventing them from accessing international waterways. The insurance policies for most of the world’s oil cargo ships are written out of Europe.

As a result, Russia would confront steep new obstacles to moving its oil anywhere. The sanctions are intended to double the amount of Russian oil pulled from the market since the war began.

An internal U.S. Treasury analysis projects that could send the price of oil soaring 50 percent above where it is today. Some market analysts are warning of potentially steeper climbs, which could push gas prices beyond $6 a gallon.

The economy is still going to be the primary motivating factor for most voters this year, but with crime continuing to be a top concern for many Americans as well, Republicans would be wise to talk about the importance not only of getting tough on violent criminals but ensuring that law-abiding citizens have the means to protect themselves. We’re not just concerned about highway robbery every time we fill up our gas tank, after all. We’re worried about being robbed behind the wheel and in the supposed sanctity of our homes as well, and Democrats have made it abundantly clear that their public safety strategy involves disarming the general public and preventing them from protecting themselves.