AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File
Ever since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, we’ve heard plenty about how the public supports gun control. In some people’s minds, that’s the important thing. Who cares about rights if the majority doesn’t like that right?
However, there’s now some evidence to suggest that the “majority” isn’t nearly as big as the media has been claiming.
Besides Vox, Morning Consult’s own summary of the poll emphasized the gun issue as a campaign priority, as “climate change, gun policy and recent state abortion legislation top Democratic voters’ list of topics they most want[ed] to hear during” the debates. Sixty-two percent of self-identified Democratic voters said that it was “very important” that gun issues be discussed, ranking gun policy second among 17 named issues overall and statistically tied with climate change and abortion for the top slot.
Not a big surprise, really, but also not as monolithic a response as it may appear, for two reasons: First, a substantial split between the hyper-Left Democratic core and more moderate elements of the party; and, second, counterbalancing attitudes from Republican and Independent voters.
Seventy-two percent of “strong Democrats” called the gun policy discussion very important, compared to 47% of “not very strong” – i.e., soft – Democrats and 60% of all those who indicated they were likely to vote in a Democratic primary or caucus. Those splits are significant statistically. Additionally, urbanites were significantly more likely to agree with the “very important” label (53%) than were suburbanites (43%) and those living in rural areas (38%). In terms of religious differences, non-Christians were significantly more likely to call guns a very important issue than were Christians, agnostics, or atheists (66% versus 41%, 45% and 45%, respectively).
Homemakers, students, and the unemployed tended to consider gun policy discussion very important while employed workers were less inclined to do so, but not all differences between those groups were significant. Similarly, Generation Z – or “post-Millennial” – voters were more likely than their Millennial, Gen-X or Boomer peers to rate gun control a very important topic, although differences did not achieve significance.
In other words, all Democratic voters aren’t nearly as rabidly anti-gun as we’ve been told. Interesting.
So, I decided to look a little deeper into the Morning Consult’s report. When asked who they trusted more with the issue of guns, 41 percent of registered voters said they trusted Republicans to handle it, compared to 40 percent siding with Democrats on the issue. As Republicans are seen as the pro-gun party, that’s telling. The two groups are in a virtual dead heat.
Additionally, only 35 percent of all registered voters think gun control should be a priority. That’s just over a third, which accounts for most of the Democrats and a small handful of independents who likely lean Democrat on a handful of issues such as guns.
The poll suggests that the anti-gun rhetoric coming out of the Democrats isn’t the winning strategy they think it is. As it is, the candidate running exclusively on gun control had to withdraw from the primary, so it’s not like Democrats are exclusively focused on gun control.
From what it looks like, the best-case scenario is for candidates to keep prattling on about gun control for as long as they can, then get trounced in the 2020 elections. And this applies not just to presidential races, but also Congress. Imagine the consternation on the faces of Democrats when they lose the House after only two years of control, all because they kept pushing gun control?
Now gun control not being a priority doesn’t mean it doesn’t have support.
What it does mean is that Democrats are going to have to woo voters with far more than claims that they’ll rid the world of crime because they passed gun control. They’ll have to win on other issues, and it remains to be seen if they can.