Many lefties and centrists have watched the NRA's behavior since Sandy Hook and concluded that the gun lobby is embarrassing itself. The NRA has disqualified itself from serious consideration in the gun debate. It's sidelining itself while serious people discuss the problems of gun violence. And the NRA is denying reality by ignoring the fact that even gun owners support many gun-control ideas.
So that means the NRA is really, really unpopular at this moment -- right?
Well, no, it isn't:
... a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that the National Rifle Association is more popular than the entertainment industry.How does this happen? How does the NRA raise its public profile in an unhinged and offensive way, attacking even the president's school-age children, while taking positions at odds with even its own members' beliefs, and still maintain plurality support from the public -- including one in four people who don't even own a gun? And how can it be more popular than the entertainment industry, which produces at least some products that just about everyone enjoys?
Forty-one percent of adults see the NRA -- the nation's top gun lobby -- in a positive light, while 34 percent view it in a negative light.
By comparison, just 24 percent have positive feelings about the entertainment industry, and 39 percent have negative ones.
The NRA's fav/unfav score is virtually unchanged from its 41 percent-to-29 percent rating in the Jan. 2011 NBC/WSJ poll, nearly two years before the Newtown shootings....
Among those who own a gun, 62 percent view the NRA favorably. But that percentage drops to just 25 percent among those who don't.
Somehow the public has been persuaded that the entertainment industry is a remote, out-of-touch bunch of wealthy elitists who get rich selling us trash (lots of people say that, across the political spectrum, when they want to appear high-minded). The NRA, by contrast, is seen as your next-door neighbor -- or you. The NRA is thus one of many institutions -- the Republican Party, the Catholic Church -- that somehow can't be fully discredited, no matter how many awful things it does.
So we don't really have the NRA on the ropes. We won't have the NRA on the ropes until we figure out what inclines so many Americans to feel favorably disposed toward the group -- and undermine that. You'd think, given the NRA's behavior, that that wouldn't be hard. But it's clearly more difficult than we think, because we assume we don't have to do anything except wait for the NRA to discredit itself. That isn't happening. And I don't think it will happen.