The Corner

U.S.

Gun Politics: Do Polls Show A Change?

Citing an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, John Harwood writes, “Voters citing the importance of guns – traditionally a source of GOP enthusiasm, favor Democrats for Congress by 58 percent to 33 percent.”

I’ve been skeptical that the politics of gun control are really moving in the direction of more regulation. The key political fact about the issue is that opponents of increased regulation have been more likely to vote on the issue than supporters, and I haven’t seen evidence that’s changing.

I’m not ready to abandon this skepticism. What I’d like to know is whether people are going to change their voting behavior because of gun control. Is the issue motivating people who often skip elections to vote for pro-gun control politicians this time? Is it motivating people who sometimes vote for anti-gun control politicians–because they have in the past prioritized other issues or candidate attributes–to vote this time for pro-gun control politicians?

I suspect–but admit that I have no evidence–that what the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is finding is mostly that liberals are making gun control a bigger priority. That is, people who would have voted for pro-gun control politicians anyway are now explicitly citing gun control as the reason for their vote when they talk to pollsters. And that’s not the same thing at all.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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