POLITICS
10/25/2013 05:40 pm ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Support Drops For Stricter Gun Laws

AP

Support for stricter gun laws falls on the Gallup Poll in the year since Sandy Hook. Marijuana legalization may or may not be the next big wedge issue. And breaking news from Boston: a campaign poll tested negative messages about a candidate. This is HuffPollster for Friday, October 25, 2013.

GALLUP REVISITS GUN LAW ATTITUDES - Lydia Saad: "Nearly a year after the Newtown, Conn., school shootings spawned considerable U.S. debate about passing stricter gun control laws, almost half of Americans believe the laws covering the sale of firearms should be strengthened and half say they should stay the same or be less strict. Public support for stricter gun laws is down from 58% in the days after the December 2012 Newtown shootings, and is lower than it was from 2000 through 2006, when, for the most part, solid majorities of Americans favored such laws. However, it remains slightly higher than from 2009 to 2011, when support for stricter laws fell to record lows of 44% and 43%...The new poll also finds public opposition to banning handgun ownership holding at a record-high 74%, identical to a year ago. One in four Americans think the law should limit possession to police and other authorized persons." [Gallup]

2013-10-25-GallupGuns.png

IS MARIJUANA NEXT 'WEDGE ISSUE?' - Nate Cohn says yes: "We’ve reached the point where there should be no surprise if a major national politician embraces marijuana legalization. Without any large-scale campaign on its behalf, surveys show that approximately half of Americans now support marijuana legalization, including 58 percent in a recent, but potentially outlying, Gallup poll. Regardless of the exact support today, marijuana is all but assured to emerge as an issue in national elections—it's only a question of how and when...Any liberal rival to Hillary Clinton in 2016 will have every incentive to support marijuana legalization. Whether Clinton will follow suit is harder to say, given that frontrunners (and Clintons) are generally pretty cautious. It’s probably more likely that Clinton would endorse steps toward liberalization, like weaker criminal penalties and support for the legalization experiments in Washington and Colorado. Republicans, meanwhile, are less likely to support legalization or liberalization...Yet marijuana’s big moment will probably come later, perhaps in 2024." [New Republic]

Amelia Thomson-Deveaux says no - "It’s undeniable that same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization are both enjoying a surge in momentum, buoyed by a string of state-level victories...But it’s silly to expect that public opinion on the two issues will progress in tandem. For the past decade, same-sex marriage advocates have been slowly chipping away at a deeply entrenched cultural—and partisan—issue. Legal pot is less polarizing than gay marriage. Although only around one-third of Republicans think marijuana should be legal, they don’t favor strong federal retribution against states that violate the law, either. This means that marijuana is unlikely to become a wedge issue; since even Pat Robertson thinks we should be regulating marijuana like alcohol, it’s hard to imagine that the shadow of 'reefer madness' emerging as a potent social force anytime soon." [Prospect]

NEGATIVE MESSAGE TESTING IN BOSTON - The Boston Globe reports on what appears to be a an internal campaign poll conducted by a call center that had previously fielded a survey for mayoral candidate John Connolly. The calls tested negative campaign messages against his opponent, Martin Walsh. Jim O'Sullivan: "Polling calls to voters are not uncommon in campaigns; frequently they ask voters a combination of positive and negative questions about both candidates involved to test the viability of different campaign messages. What is less typical is a call like this, one that polls on demographics and on strictly negative questions about one candidate, a sign that a campaign may be gearing up for an attack against the opponent." The news may be in Connolly's non-denial denial: "While refusing comment on the matter Thursday, Connolly instead told the Globe: 'We are not running a negative campaign. We are not going to run a negative campaign. And I will never run a negative campaign.'" [Globe]

Repeating the message - In explaining the story, the Globe summarized the negative messages tested against Walsh. Via Twitter, Boston pollster Steve Koczela, whose firm does no work for campaigns but has fielded surveys on the Boston mayors' race for radio station WBUR: "Campaign leaders are rarely upset by negative msgs about opponents repeated in reporting about msg testing polls...Kinda like earned media where you did an actual poll, got strategic data, & got a free hit on your opponent to boot." [@SKoczela here and here]

Connolly leads narrowly - A handful of recent polls on the Boston race, combined in the new Pollster chart below, have consistently given Connolly a single digit lead since October. [Pollster]

NOBODY IS POPULAR ON HEALTH CARE - Emily Swanson: "While Americans largely disapprove of how President Barack Obama is handling health care, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, they have even more negative opinions of how Republicans in Congress are handling the issue. According to the new poll, Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of health care by a 56 percent to 39 percent margin. The survey also finds that 47 percent want to see the Affordable Care Act, Obama's signature health care law, repealed, while 25 percent want to see it expanded and 15 percent think it should be kept the same. But few view Republicans in Congress as saviors -- by a 63 percent to 27 percent margin, most disapprove of their handling of the issue. Congressional Democrats fared slightly better, though a majority still viewed them negatively, with 34 percent approving and 53 percent disapproving of their handling of health care. And if forced to choose, more Americans trust Obama to handle health care than Republicans in Congress, 42 percent to 33 percent." [HuffPost]

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

-The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index falls to its lowest level in eight months. [Bloomberg]

-Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) narrowly trails his Democratic opponent Paul Davis. [SurveyUSA]

-Ron Brownstein says both parties are ignoring what their voters want. [National Journal]

-Harry Enten notes that the government shutdown took a toll on Barack Obama's favorable ratings. [Guardian]

-Alex Bratty (R) reviews poll results showing negative reaction to the ObamaCare rollout. [POS]

-Amy Walter argues that Americans who will never use healthcare.gov will deterimine if ACA is a success. [Cook Political]

-Drew DeSilver posts an all encompassing chart of the economic recovery. [Pew Research's Fact Tank]

-Lydia DePillis says enough already with the Moneyball references. [WaPost's Wonkblog]

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