Poll: Voters Say Gun Views More Important for Candidates Than Views on Trump as Gap Between Republicans and Democrats Tightens

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - A rifle and handgun lay next to their magazines at the base shooting range. Proper awareness of weapons' capabilities and safety issues keeps firearms owners knowledgable and responsible. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Elliott Sprehe)

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A poll of released on Monday found voters have become more concerned with candidates’ views on gun policy than on President Trump at the same time that the partisan gap has shrunk.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll, conducted between April 8 and 11, found that 78 percent of registered voters considered voting for a candidate whose views on gun rights and gun control matched their own to be either very or extremely important. Twenty-one percent of those surveyed said it was only somewhat important or not important at all. One percent gave no opinion.

The same poll found only 52 percent of registered voters considered a candidate sharing their opinion on President Donald Trump to be either very or extremely important to whether or not they would vote for them. Forty-seven percent said it was only somewhat important or not important at all.

The gap between registered voters who prefer Democrats to Republicans shrunk by 8 points between the last Washington Post/ABC News poll, conducted in January, and the poll released on Monday. Democrats had a 12 percentage-point advantage over Republicans in January but now only enjoy a 4 point advantage.

In the poll, 82 percent of Republicans consider gun issues to be important while 17 percent did not. Eighty percent of Democrats consider guns to be important while 18 percent did not. Independents were slightly less engaged with the issue, but 73 percent considered guns important to their vote while 26 percent did not.

Liberals were most likely to consider gun policy important to their vote with 85 percent saying it was important and 15 percent saying it wasn’t. Seventy-eight percent of conservatives said gun policy was important to their vote while 21 percent said it wasn’t. Moderates were the least interested in the issue with 75 percent saying it was important to their vote and 24 percent saying otherwise.

The poll revealed a significant difference in how important gun policy is to those of different ages with older registered voters showing more interest. Seventy-six percent of those between 18- and 39-years-old said the issue was important for deciding their vote. Seventy-nine percent of those between 40- and 64-years-old said it was important. Eighty percent of those over 65-years-old said it was important.

There was a similar distinction in interest based on where voters live as well with more rural voters finding gun policy more important to their vote. Seventy-four percent of the poll’s respondents who live in urban areas said gun policy was important. Eighty percent of those in suburban areas said it was important. Eighty-one percent of those in rural areas said it was important.

Large majorities of every group of voters, however, considered the gun issue to be an important factor in deciding whom to vote for in the upcoming midterm election. No group had less than 73 percent of voters saying they find the issue important to their vote.

The high interest in gun policy among voters comes after a nationwide protest calling for new gun bans and other forms of gun control and a new gun sales record in March.

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