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Voters Doubt Sincerity of Politicians Who Raise Gun Issues

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Republicans rate gun issues more important to their vote than others do, but there’s a great deal of skepticism among all voters about politicians who raise gun-related issues.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Likely U.S. Voters believe most politicians raise gun issues just to get elected rather than to address real problems. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds only 11% think most have real problems in mind, while another 11% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Thirty-eight percent (38%) think politicians discuss gun-related issues too little. But 31% say they discuss them too much, and 24% feel the level of discussion of gun issues is about right.

While there is general partisan agreement that most politicians raise gun issues just to get elected, 62% of Democrats think there is too little discussion of gun issues. Just 27% of Republicans and 23% of voters not affiliated with either major political party agree.

But 56% of GOP voters rate gun-related issues as Very Important to their vote, compared to 49% of Democrats and 46% of unaffiliateds.

Among all voters, 84% say gun issues are important to how they vote, with 50% who say they are Very Important. Just 15% consider gun-related issues unimportant to their vote, but that includes only four percent (4%) who say they are Not At All Important. This is more importance than voters attached to gun control nearly three years ago.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on November 1-2, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage point with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

While leading Democrats ramp up to pursue more gun control, voters have become even more supportive of their right to own a gun.

Sizable majorities of voters in nearly every demographic category doubt the sincerity of politicians who raise gun-related issues.

Women and voters 40 and over attach slightly more importance to gun-related issues than men and younger voters do. Blacks and other minority voters say gun issues are more important to their vote than whites do.

Conservatives are more likely to view gun issues as Very Important to their vote than moderates and liberals are. But conservatives are also far more likely than the others to think politicians discuss gun-related issues too much. Most liberals (58%) feel these issues aren’t discussed enough.

Among all voters who say gun-related issues are Very Important to their vote, 33% feel these issues are discussed too much, while 41% say they are discussed too little. Twenty percent (20%) say the level of discussion is about right.

Voters by a two-to-one margin have said in surveys since the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly three years ago that the best way to prevent incidents like this is to focus more on the mentally ill rather than on increased gun control.

Forty-two percent (42%) of voters believe the United States needs stricter gun control laws, but 51% disagree. However, 61% believe the United States needs stricter enforcement of the gun control laws already on the books.

While more than half of voters support a ban on purchasing semi-automatic and assault type weapons, only 14% favor a complete handgun ban.

A big problem for supporters of more gun control is that 62% of Americans don't trust the federal government to fairly enforce gun control laws.

Eight-out-of-10 Americans believe most politicians are less ethical than those in other professions.  Seventy-eight percent (78%) of voters think most politicians also raise race issues just to get elected rather than to address real problems.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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