(Courtesy Jan Rose Kasmir via AP) How many times have you seen a news article talking about how most people support gun control? I know I’ve seen it a ton over the years. The media and politicians latch onto poll numbers as if they’re sacrosanct, telling us this proves the public supports them.
Then the election rolls around and gun control doesn’t seem to make a blip on the radar.
Over at the New York Times, they decided to delve into just why that is . It’s one of the most puzzling questions for Democrats in American politics: Why is the political system so unresponsive to gun violence? Expanded background checks routinely receive more than 80 percent or 90 percent support in polling. Yet gun control legislation usually gets stymied in Washington and Republicans never seem to pay a political price for their opposition. There have been countless explanations offered about why political reality seems so at odds with the polling, including the power of the gun lobby; the importance of single-issue voters; and the outsize influence of rural states in the Senate. But there’s another possibility, one that might be the most sobering of all for gun control supporters: Their problem could also be the voters, not just politicians or special interests. Oh, blaming the voters, right?
You see, the argument being made isn’t that the voters are somehow wrong, but that issue polling is, well, useless. All of these theories may have merit, but the results of referendums add another possibility: The apparent progressive political majority in the polls might just be illusory. It simply may not exist for practical purposes. And the tendency for referendum results of all ideological colors to underperform the polls may betray an overlooked dimension of public opinion: a tendency to err toward the […]
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