Thursday, March 30, 2023


You may have seen that Fox News poll showing Donald Trump with a 54%-24% lead over Ron DeSantis in a 15-candidate GOP field. Only respondents who said they plan to vote in Republican primaries were asked to pick a candidate, of course -- but the poll also included a number of questions for voters of all political affiliations. One question was about universal background checks for gun sales. As is invariably the case, they were extremely popular: 74% of poll respondents were in favor, 24% opposed.

The question was asked in a way that should have made right-leaning voters reject the idea:
Do you approve or disapprove of President Biden's executive order requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buying at gun shows and private sales?
Biden's job approval/disapproval numbers in this poll are 44%/56%. That's not great. And he issued an executive order, which you'd think would suggest totalitarian overreach to right-wing respondents.

But every right-leaning group approves -- or nearly every one. Here are the numbers -- click to enlarge. I'll highlght a few below.

Men approve of universal background checks 72%-27%. Whites approve 72%-26%. White men approve 69%-29%. White evangelicals approve 63%-35%.

Republicans approve 53%-43%. Conservatives approve 59%-37%. Respondents who are very conservative approve 49%-45%.

Repsondents who voted for Trump in 2020 approve 52%-44%. Whites with no college degree approve 69%-29%. White men with no college degree approve 64%-35%. Rural respondents approve 69%-29%. Rural whites approve 66%-32%.

The only group that disapproves is Republican men, and even with them it's a tossup: 49%-50%. (Republican women approve 57%-37%.)

This isn't the least bit controversial -- and yet it will never happen, because no Republican who wants to win future elections will risk the inevitable primary challenge.

At this point, I think a Republican who voted for universal background checks while making a great show of opposing other gun bills might survive a primary. But I can't imagine any Republican risking it. And so even this small change in the law won't happen anytime soon -- if ever.

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