Voters Say They Want Gun Control. Their Votes Say Something Different.
"Broad public support on the issue may not be as broad as polling shows or as Democrats hope.
It’s one of the most puzzling questions for Democrats in American politics: Why is the political system so unresponsive to gun violence? Expanded background checks routinely receive more than 80 percent or 90 percent support in polling. Yet gun control legislation usually gets stymied in Washington and Republicans never seem to pay a political price for their opposition.
There have been countless explanations offered about why political reality seems so at odds with the polling, including the power of the gun lobby; the importance of single-issue voters; and the outsize influence of rural states in the Senate.
But there’s another possibility, one that might be the most sobering of all for gun control supporters: Their problem could also be the voters, not just politicians or special interests.
When voters in four Democratic-leaning states got the opportunity to enact expanded gun background checks into law, the overwhelming support suggested by national surveys was nowhere to be found. Instead, the initiative and referendum results in Maine, California, Washington and Nevada were nearly identical to those of the 2016 presidential election, all the way down to the result of individual counties.