Our friends at the Center for American Progress (CAP) have just released a post-election poll which gets right down to the details about how and why folks voted the way they did. I’m going to leave the discussion about the overall poll results to the experts in politics, but I would like to discuss the results of several poll questions which related specifically to the issue of guns.
The CAP press release which accompanied the survey found that in most areas, a majority of voters for both candidates preferred a middle-of-the-road approach to legislative issues and priorities, as well as a “notable alignment between Trump and Clinton voters on progressive issue priorities such as equal pay, money in politics, gun violence, and criminal justice reform.” But when I examined the answers to specific questions about gun violence, with all due respect, this ‘notable alignment’ does not appear to be all that notable or all that aligned.
The survey contains a reference to gun issues in three questions: Question #65 asks participants to rate the degree to which the candidates’ stance on ‘ensuring no infringements on the 2nd Amendment’ was important in determining how they voted; question #89 asks participants to rate the importance of ‘ensuring no infringements on the 2nd Amendment’ as a priority of the next Administration and Congress; question #102 asks participants whether they would support or oppose “legislation requiring background checks on all gun sales, including those sold online or at gun shows.”
And here’s how it went down. Three-quarters of Trump’s supporters said that protecting the 2nd Amendment was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ in determining their decision to vote for him; less than half the Clinton supporters used the same 2nd-Amendment criteria for supporting HRC. In other words, Clinton’s call for more gun regulations motivated her voters considerably less than Trump supporters were motivated by his defense of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ Gun-sense Nation was rightfully exultant that we finally had a national candidate who was willing to take on the NRA, but it wasn’t a strategy that appeared to have swayed votes.
Now things get a little sticky, because the next question asked participants to indicate the degree to which they expect Trump and the Congress to act on different priorities, one of them being protecting 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ And on this one, the views of Trump versus HRC supporters didn’t align at all. Again, nearly three-quarters of the Trumpsters expect Trump to make good on his campaign claims to bolster 2nd-Amendment guarantees; again less than half of HRC’s supporters want to see the 2nd Amendment strengthened, a division of opinion that was exceeded only by views on keeping the ACA and building s Mexican wall.
Finally, and here’s the hot-button issue, namely, the question of comprehensive background checks. Trump voters split about 70-30 on extending background checks; HRC voters, not surprisingly, came down more than 8 out of 10 in favor of comprehensive checks. I didn’t mention a fourth gun question (#58 and #82) because asking people if they support efforts to reduce gun ‘crime’ and gun violence is really a two-edged sword. This was the only gun question where both sides more or less agreed, but I guarantee you that had the question been broken down to its two component parts – gun violence versus gun crimes – one side would have been much more concerned with reducing gun violence, the other side much more concerned with doing something about gun ‘crimes.’ And if you need to be told which side is which on that one, you didn’t pay much attention to the HRC-Trump argument on guns during the campaign.
I’ll always stand up and applaud CAP for the really great work they do; work which is much more important right now as we look for ways to check the behavior of the lunatics who want to turn the government into their private asylum. But in opposing the craziness, we have to understand it for what it is and not look for silver linings which may or may not exist.