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Senators Lose Support After Opposing Gun Background Checks, Poll Shows

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Senators in several states who voted earlier this month against increasing background checks for gun buyers have since seen their approval ratings noticeably drop, according to new polls released Monday by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's (R-Alaska) net approval rating dropped 16 points, as she shed much of her previous cross-party appeal. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) saw his numbers dive 18 points, from a positive to a negative rating.

Not all of the change can be attributed to the vote. Portman, for instance, saw his approval drop among Republicans when he announced his support for gay marriage in March. But in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada and Ohio, at least 60 percent of voters supported background checks, and many expressed disappointment with politicians who voted otherwise.

Fifty-two percent of Arizona voters said they were less likely to support Sen. Jeff Flake (R) for reelection due to his "no" vote, while 46 percent of Nevadans said the same of Sen. Dean Heller (R). More than a third of voters were less likely to back Portman as well as Alaska Sens. Mark Begich (D) and Murkowski. A previous PPP poll found that Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) also saw her ratings tumble 15 points, likely due in part to her vote against background checks.

Much of the lost support comes from independent or moderate voters.

PPP hasn't yet conducted polling on how senators who supported the bill have fared. But Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who cosponsored background check legislation, saw his approval rating increase by a net 7 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.

Nationally, most polls taken since the shooting in Newtown, Conn., have found that upwards of 80 percent of people support gun background checks, and that there is relatively little partisan division on the issue.

Opinions were less unified on the actual legislation considered in the Senate, but most still say they wish it had gone through. A 65 percent majority of Americans said the measure should have passed, including 45 percent of Republicans and a majority of Democrats and independents, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

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