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Colorado Poll: Gun Control Politically Dangerous for Democrats

11:00 AM, Mar 9, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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A new poll measuring public opinion of gun control measures being considered in Colorado finds the issue could be politically dangerous for Democrats. And most don’t think “sweeping gun control measures will make them any safer,” according to the pollster.

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“[W]hile opinions on this issue fall predictably along party and ideological lines, there are some political perils that Democratic leaders should be cognizant of,” writes pollster Rob Autry, of Public Opinion Strategies, in a memo detailing the poll’s findings.

“Democratic legislators also have to be mindful that even members of their own partisan coalition are conflicted about this proposed legislation.  While only 8% of Democrats oppose all of the gun control measures we tested, 70% of Democratic voters oppose one or some combination of the proposals (either the comprehensive package, the background checks, the liability claim, or the high-capacity magazine ban).”

“These poll numbers prove that Governor Hickenlooper and the Democrats are listening to Bloomberg and Biden instead of Coloradans,” comments state senator Greg Brophy, responding to the poll, in an email to me.

As for Republicans, Autry writes, “Not surprisingly, Republican voters in the state overwhelmingly oppose the comprehensive package (62% say it’s the wrong approach and another 26% say it goes too far), oppose holding manufacturers and sellers legally liable (94% oppose), and oppose the high-capacity magazine ban (85% agree with opponents).  For the most part, the highly politically prized Independent voting bloc also opposes the key gun control measures we tested in this survey.  Fully 69% oppose passing the comprehensive legislation (33% oppose outright, 36% think it goes too far), 84% oppose holding manufacturers and sellers liable, and 55% oppose the high-capacity magazine ban when presented with both sides.  The one area of exception is the proposal to require gun buyers to pay the cost for a background check (51% of Republicans and 69% of Independent favor it).  But, on the whole, Independents are more inclined to agree with Republicans (and gun owners), than with Democrats (and anti-NRA allies).”

The fact of the matter is, Autry writes, most Coloradans don’t think the legislation will make them “safer.” “Importantly, Colorado voters do not believe these sweeping gun control measures will make them any safer.  Two out three Coloradans (65%) say these new gun control laws won’t reduce crime or make the state any safer, while just a third say they will (32%).”

And there “very well could be political repercussions for supporting this legislation, as well.  Nearly half (48%) of voters say they would be less likely to vote for their State Senator in the next election if he or she supports these gun control bills (40% more likely).  There is strong intensity behind this as well – thirty-seven percent (37%) of voters overall say they would be much less likely to vote for him or her.”

Instead of gun control, the poll finds that Coloradans want the politicians to be focused on the economy. “Colorado voters want to see the Governor and State Legislature focus on the economy and jobs, first and foremost.  When asked to identify the top legislative priorities for the current year, economic issues top the list (52%), followed by improving public education (40%), and balancing the state budget (27%).  Passing gun control legislation ranks sixth out of the nine issues tested – with only 14% saying the issue is something they want the Governor and legislature to focus on this year,” writes the pollster.

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