Background Checks Poll: Americans Feel Disappointment And Anger Over Rejected Proposal

04/19/2013 05:48 pm ET

Feelings of disappointment and anger overwhelm those of relief or excitement over the Senate's rejection of background check legislation earlier this week, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. That result comes as no surprise, given that the vast majority of Americans continue to favor expanding background checks for those seeking to purchase a firearm.

Asked to choose the word that best described their feelings about the Senate's rejection Wednesday of an amendment to expand background checks, 32 percent of respondents said they were disappointed and 28 percent said they were angry, compared to 17 percent who described themselves as relieved and 6 percent who said they were excited. Another 18 percent said they weren't sure which word best described their feelings.

The poll found that 71 percent continue to favor requiring background checks at gun shows and for online sales, as the Senate agreement would have done, while 17 percent said they were opposed to such checks. Another recent survey on the Senate proposal, conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, found that 86 percent of respondents said they supported the expanded background checks.

An earlier HuffPost/YouGov poll conducted in March found that 73 percent of Americans said they support background checks, which was also on the lower side compared to other public polls on the issue.

In the new HuffPost/YouGov poll, 90 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents, and 60 percent of Republicans said that they support background checks.

But among Republicans, the words chosen to best describe their feelings about the bill may provide some insight into why most Republican senators felt comfortable opposing the background check requirement. A combined 39 percent of Republicans said that they were either excited or relieved, while 38 percent said they were disappointed or angry. Twenty-three percent of Republicans said they weren't sure how they felt about the defeat of the amendment.

Both Democrats and independents were more likely to choose negative than positive words to describe their feelings, by a margin of 84 percent to 8 percent for Democrats and 53 percent to 26 percent among independents.

Although most Americans say that they support expanded background checks, the new survey indicates that the issue isn't one Americans are following closely. Only 36 percent said that they have heard a lot about the Senate's rejection of the measure, while 48 percent said they had heard a little and 16 percent said they had heard nothing at all.

And those who were following the developments most closely were slightly less likely to say that they supported expanded background checks. Of those who said they had heard a lot, 67 percent said they favored background checks, compared to 26 percent who opposed, while those who had heard only a little favored them 75 percent to 13 percent. In addition, 31 percent of those following most closely used positive words to describe their feelings about the Senate rejecting the measure, compared to only 22 percent of those who had only heard a little.

The poll was conducted April 17-18 among 1,000 adults using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling.

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