HUFFPOLLSTER: Many Americans Supported Stricter Gun Laws Even Before The Orlando Shooting

A majority call gun violence a very serious problem.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted just before the Orlando shooting shows that Americans were already concerned about gun violence. Donald Trump seemed to benefit from his extreme rhetoric after terrorist attacks in the fall, but that might not happen this time. And Hillary Clinton is gaining in the wake of securing the Democratic nomination. This is HuffPollster for Tuesday, June 14, 2016.

AMERICANS WERE ALREADY WORRIED ABOUT GUN VIOLENCE BEFORE ORLANDO - HuffPollster: "Last week, HuffPost conducted a survey to see how opinion on gun control had stabilized in the absence of recent high-profile mass shootings….In many ways, the survey’s results look similar to those conducted directly following tragedies, although they represent a modest ebb in support for gun control since the attacks in San Bernardino, California, in December….A 52-percent majority called gun violence a very serious problem, and 48 percent wanted stricter gun laws — down 6 and 7 points since the San Bernardino shootings, respectively. Twenty-six percent said in the latest poll that the laws shouldn’t be changed, while 18 percent wanted laws that were less strict. The public was almost evenly divided whether it’s politically possible to pass stricter gun laws, with 39 percent saying that it is, and 36 percent that it’s not. Thirty percent said that mass shootings are just a fact of life in the U.S, while 51 percent believed that the attacks can be stopped." [HuffPost]  

Americans favor stricter gun laws but are skeptical of effectiveness - Frank Newport: "A comprehensive review of American attitudes about gun control conducted after the San Bernardino shootings in December of last year highlighted a number of major conclusions about the public's attitudes toward gun control. A majority of Americans -- 55% -- favor stricter gun control laws, higher than at several points in recent years since President Barack Obama took office and about where this attitude was during the George W. Bush years, but below earlier points -- including 78% in 1990, when the question was first asked….Large majorities of Americans support almost all proposals that deal with increased or more thorough background checks before guns can be purchased. Americans are not convinced, however, that increased background-check laws would reduce the number of mass shootings in the U.S. Gallup research has shown mixed attitudes about banning assault weapons in recent years….The large majority of Americans oppose a total ban on the possession of handguns. Americans are skeptical that gun control laws would be highly efficacious in controlling acts of gun violence and mass shootings." [Gallup]  

REACTIONS AMONG ELECTORATE COULD BE VERY DIFFERENT FROM LAST FALL’S TERRORIST ATTACKS - Harry Enten: "[W]e don’t know how the tragedy will affect the race, and we should be careful about making too many conclusions based on the polls too soon. Trump’s support rose in Republican primary polls in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino in late 2015. As my colleague Nate Silver wrote, Trump voters reacted positively to his calls for a temporary ban on any Muslims’ entering the U.S. and tougher restrictions on immigration more generally…. But, as Nate pointed out at the time, it’s difficult to tease out exactly how much of a bounce Trump really got. Moreover, Trump’s support didn’t move much after the bombings in Brussels in March, which suggests the voters disposed to favor Trump due to the threat of terrorism may have already moved into his camp. That is, voters are now aware of Trump’s positions, and he may not have any more ground to gain. This leads to a second point: The general election electorate is much different than a GOP primary electorate. Just because Trump gained support among Republicans after a terrorist attack doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll gain among voters at large….This was a mass shooting, a terrorist attack and a hate crime, making it hard to predict how the American public will react." [538]   

CLINTON’S LEAD EXPANDS IN FIRST POLL AFTER SECURING THE NOMINATION - Hannah Hartig, John Lapinski and Stephanie Psyllos: "Influence of the events of the past week is evident in the most recent NBC News|SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll, which shows Clinton leading Trump by 7 points, 49 percent to 42 percent….Clinton's gains over the past two weeks in the tracking poll are coming from increases in support among moderates, men and white voters. She narrowed Trump's margin among men and white voters from double digits in last week's poll to single digits this week. Clinton picked up 7 points among moderate voters this week and now leads Trump 58 percent to 33 percent among them. Trump's margin among male voters dropped from 14 points last week to 9 points this week and he now leads Clinton 51 percent to 42 percent. His 13-point margin among white voters last week also shrank to 9 points this week. White voters now favor Trump to Clinton 50 percent to 41 percent." [NBC]

Most Americans don’t view her nomination as historic - Eli Yokley: "Hillary Clinton’s achievement of becoming the first woman to secure a major party’s presidential nomination is viewed by four in 10 voters as a 'historic moment' for the country, according to a new national poll by Morning Consult….Only a third (33 percent) of men said Clinton’s achievement was historic, while 42 percent of women shared the view….Among other things, only 22 percent of Americans said they viewed Clinton’s nomination a 'step forward' for the country, while 18 percent said it left them angry and another 30 percent said it made them frustrated. About one in 10 voters (12 percent) said Clinton is 'the most historic nominee the nation has ever had,' while 30 percent of them said her nomination was “one of the most historic nominations, but not the most historic the nation has ever had.” [Morning Consult]

Notably, the question wording didn’t point to her gender - The Morning Consult question's wording: “As you may know, Hillary Clinton has secured enough delegates to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Please let us know which of these short phrases or words you agree with. Please check all that apply.” The option “This is an historic moment” didn’t mention gender either. Even though many respondents were likely aware of Clinton’s status as the first female major party nominee, this question could have underestimated the historic sentiment by not prompting respondents to think about gender.

FEW AMERICANS DISLIKE BOTH TRUMP AND CLINTON - Alan Abramowitz and John Sides: "Yes, both Clinton and Trump have unusually high unfavorable ratings — higher than those of any major party nominee in many years. But only a minority of Americans actually dislikes both candidates. The actual majority of Americans likes one but not the other, and feels pretty strongly about it. Consider the survey conducted by the American National Election Study from Jan. 22-28….Respondents were asked to rate the candidates on a scale ranging from zero (extremely unfavorable) to 100 (extremely favorable). Hillary Clinton received an average rating of 41 degrees and Trump received an average rating of 40 degrees. Only 43 percent of respondents rated Clinton favorably (above 50) while 55 percent rated her negatively (below 50). Trump did slightly worse — 40 percent of respondents rated him favorably while 57 percent rated him negatively….Moreover, even though both Clinton and Trump were viewed unfavorably overall, only a minority of respondents — 23 percent — had unfavorable opinions of both. The majority of respondents, 63 percent, rated one favorably and the other unfavorably: 33 percent of respondents rated Clinton favorably and Trump unfavorably, while 30 percent rated Trump favorably and Clinton unfavorably. Only 9 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of both. Very few respondents were indifferent between Clinton and Trump and most strongly preferred one to the other….More recent data show the same thing." [WashPost]   

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TUESDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Latino Decisions' Adrian Pantoja says Kamala Harris can't win a California Senate seat without the Latino vote. [HuffPost]  

-Barry Burden explains why it will be difficult for Donald Trump to get non-college graduates to vote. [WashPost]

-Seth Masket makes the case why some Republicans might support the Libertarian ticket. [Pacific Standard]

-Cathleen Decker writes that most Bernie Sanders voters will ultimately back Hillary Clinton. [LA Times]

-Political science research shows that electoral institutions affect the chances of women and minorities getting elected. [MPSA]  

-Confidence in Congress is at just 9 percent. [HuffPost]

-Europeans view ISIS and climate change as the most serious threats. [Pew]

-High demand for a new Brexit poll release crashed a U.K.'s pollster's website. [Bloomberg]