The NRA's Popularity Is Slipping, Polls Find

One of the new polls, conducted by Fox News, put the gun group's numbers in the red for the first time in nearly two decades.

Voters’ collective opinion of the National Rifle Association has shifted into the negatives, according to a new Fox News poll.

Only 42% of voters now have a favorable view of the NRA, with 47% viewing it unfavorably, for a net -5 rating. That’s the first time the gun organization’s ratings have been underwater in the six times Fox has asked about it ― five times in the past decade, as well as once in the year 2000. The NRA is also now on the wrong side of an intensity gap: Voters are 13 percentage points more likely to say they strongly oppose the organization than they are to strongly favor it.

A 56% majority of voters in gun-owning households view the NRA positively, Fox’s Dana Blanton notes, down from 67% last year and 71% in 2013.

A new Economist/YouGov poll also finds a spike in opposition to the NRA, with 35% viewing the group favorably and 46% unfavorably, for a net -11 rating, lower than its -4 rating earlier this month.


“For a long time, the public has been closely divided in its assessment of the NRA, with about as many seeing it favorably as view it unfavorably,” YouGov’s Kathy Frankovic wrote. “In this week’s poll, opinion has become clearly negative. However, the loss in support has come primarily from Democrats and Independents. More than seven in 10 Republicans remain positive.”

Both the Fox and the Economist/YouGov surveys were conducted soon after multiple high-profile mass shootings, at a time when concerns about guns may have been temporarily heightened.

By contrast, a Gallup poll last summer found far more positive ratings for the NRA, with 53% of Americans rating the group favorably and just 42% rating it unfavorably, for a net of +11. But that poll also offered some evidence of attrition: The NRA’s favorability was down from a net +23 in 2015, and on par with its ratings from the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Gallup, too, found the change could be attributed mostly to Democrats, whose impressions of the NRA hit a new low; Republicans’ views of the group actually improved over the same period, leading to a record level of polarization.

“This may reflect a variety of factors, including substantial support among Democratic leaders for tougher gun control legislation after a series of high-profile mass shootings in the past few years,” Gallup’s RJ Reinhart wrote at the time. “In particular, efforts by survivors of the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, to put pressure on Congress to pass new gun control laws may be affecting U.S. Democrats’ opinions of the NRA. ... The current high level of favorability among GOP supporters may reflect the NRA’s continued opposition to stronger gun control legislation.”

Beyond the NRA, views about gun policy may be shifting as well. Recent polling has also found evidence that baseline support for gun control has somewhat rebounded from the lows it reached during the Obama administration.

Both the Fox News poll and a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll found majority support for universal gun background checks and an assault weapons ban.

Fox surveyed 1,013 registered voters between Aug. 11-13, using live interviewers to reach both landlines and cell phones.

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