Our 2020 book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics. Among other things, it discusses the state of the parties.Republican elected officials oppose gun control. Although their position is at odds with general public opinion, few if any will suffer any political damage from it.
- According to the Wednesday survey, 65% of voters favor stricter gun control laws in the United States, up from 60% in a survey conducted after a May 14 mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y. It marks a similar level of support for gun restrictions as measured in a survey following the 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla.
- Since last week’s survey, the share of Republicans in favor of tougher gun laws increased from 37% to 44%, mirroring a level of support that had been fairly steady during Donald Trump’s presidency but declined after President Joe Biden took office last year.
- Two in 3 independent voters said they want stronger gun laws, up 10 percentage points from the post-Buffalo shooting survey.
Although the survey was conducted just one day after the Tuesday shooting, which took the lives of 19 elementary school students and two teachers, the event had near-immediate salience with the public: 52% of voters said they had seen, read or heard “a lot” about the massacre at Robb Elementary School, along with another 36% who heard some about it.
Indeed, most Republicans feel no pressure to act on gun control because voters are as likely to trust them on the issue of guns as they are to trust Democrats. A Pew Research Center poll from earlier this year showed that 38% of Americans agreed with Republicans on gun policy compared with 37% who agreed with Democrats, a finding within the margin of error and one that has been consistent in polling.
At the same time, polling from CNN/SSRS from earlier this year found that the enthusiasm on the gun issue was, if anywhere, on the Republicans’ side. Forty-five percent of voters who lean Republican said gun policy was extremely important to their 2022 congressional vote, while 40% of voters who lean Democratic said the same. Those who said gun policy was one of their top issues were more likely to have backed Donald Trump in 2020 than Joe Biden.
That’s how long it takes before the public’s anger begins to dissipate after a mass shooting, according to two scholars at Princeton University. It’s now over 24 hours after an 18-year-old gunman slaughtered 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, and the national conversation over what to do next has already fallen into a familiar pattern.
Democrats are demanding action. Republicans are trying to change the subject. And time is running out before the country’s attention inevitably turns elsewhere.
For a paper published last year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Patrick Sharkey and Yinzhi Shen of Princeton examined Gallup surveys of Americans’ self-reported emotions in the days before and after a mass shooting