August 1, 2018 | Nathan L. Gonzalez
Gun control has been a third rail of Democratic campaigns, but a new poll suggests that Democratic candidates should embrace a bolder approach to restrictions on guns, even in general elections.
I’m normally reluctant to write about issue polls because they often fail to put into context how voters prioritize that particular issue when they are making an electoral decision. For example, people have opinions on the environment, but it’s not often a top issue when they vote.
But this poll is a little different.
It modeled three different base Democratic messages against a standard conservative message. The first base message talked about the economy, education and health care. The second base message included those same issues along with a “moderate” gun message, including protecting the Second Amendment and universal background checks, and “keeping guns out of dangerous hands.” The third base message included the same initial issues along with a more progressive gun message that combined a commitment to an assault weapons ban with a call for fewer guns and making them harder to get.
The first option prevailed over a conservative candidate message by 13 points, 50 percent to 37 percent. The second message won by a wider 17-point margin. The third message, which included the more progressive position on guns, triumphed by the widest margin, 22 points. None of the ballot tests included party affiliation for the candidates.