WASHINGTON -- Mary Landrieu should've been the tip-off. The Louisiana Democrat is well known for having a fine-tuned political antenna, but the senator's recent vote in favor of expanding background checks for gun purchasing surprised some observers.
A few weeks later, Landrieu's calculation appears to have been the correct one -- opponents of background checks are tanking in polls, while backers are surging.
A new survey from Public Policy Polling shows that voters are more likely to vote to reelect Landrieu and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), two red-state Democrats up for reelection in 2014. Hagan also voted in favor of expanding background checks. Forty-four percent of likely voters are more likely to vote for Landrieu, while 26 percent are less likely. In North Carolina, 52 percent of voters are more likely to vote for Hagan, while 26 percent are less likely.
The poll had the reverse effect for the senators' Republican counterparts up for reelection in 2016, both of whom voted against the amendment sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Fifty percent of North Carolinians are less likely to vote for Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), while just 27 percent are more likely. Forty percent of voters in Louisiana are less likely to vote for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), while 25 percent are more likely.
Burr also declined to attend a dinner this week with family members of shooting victims, citing a busy schedule.
Large majorities of voters in both states favor background checks. Seventy-three percent of North Carolinians support them, while 71 percent of Louisiana voters back them.
"I'm confident that most people understand the importance of closing this loophole while preserving the rights of law abiding individuals to own and use guns for hunting, sport and self-protection," Landrieu said on her vote.
On the other side, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has faced anger at town halls this week over her vote against the background checks. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who also voted against the gun reform measure despite support from a close friend, former Arizona congresswoman and shooting victim Gabby Giffords, acknowledged that his numbers are "below pond scum."
CORRECTION: The original article misidentified Sen. Pat Toomey as a Democrat. Toomey is a Republican.