08/02/2013 06:37 pm ET Updated Aug 15, 2014

HUFFPOLLSTER: Majority Back 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

Americans are divided on national issues. Polling analysts are divided on the state of Kentucky's Senate race. Alaskans, at least, are mostly agreed that they can't see Russia from their house. This is HuffPollster for Friday, August 2, 2013.

MAJORITY SUPPORT FOR ‘STAND YOUR GROUND’ Quinnipiac: “With large racial and gender divisions, American voters back so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws 53 - 40 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today....White voters support "Stand Your Ground" laws 57 - 37 percent while black voters are opposed 57 - 37 percent. Men support these laws 62 - 34 percent while women are divided with 44 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed. Support is 75 - 19 percent among Republicans and 57 - 37 percent among independent voters, with Democrats opposed 62 - 32 percent. Voters in households where someone owns a gun back the laws 67 - 29 percent.” [Quinnipiac]

Bipartisan agreement on immigration reform - Also in the Quinnipiac poll, 64 percent of voters approved of the immigration legislation voted on by the Senate, including 60 percent of Republicans, 61 percent of independents, and 73 percent of Democrats. The question specified conditions for citizenship (such as paying a fine and learning English) which tends to increase voters’ levels of support, and also described the bill as ramping up fencing and border patrols. President Obama’s approval rating on immigration was just 39 percent, about where it stood in May and July. [ibid]

Divided opinions on abortion - Fifty-eight percent of voters said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, a record high for Quinnipiac. But highlighting the complexity of polling on the abortion issue, a majority also supported making abortion legal without restriction only until 20 weeks of pregnancy. There's also a seeming gender gap.

Aaron Blake: “[O]f four major polls conducted in recent weeks on the 20-week abortion ban, each one shows women are actually more supportive of the law than men. A new Quinnipiac poll shows 60 percent of women prefer allowing unrestricted abortions for only the first 20 weeks of pregnancy rather than the Supreme Court-prescribed 24 weeks. Among men, 50 percent support the 20-week law — a 10-point gap. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed the gap at seven points, while two other polls (from NBC/Wall Street Journal and National Journal) showed it at six and four, respectively.” [WaPost]

IS THE KENTUCKY SENATE RACE COMPETITIVE? - Two polls released Thursday, a Democratic-sponsored PPP poll and an internal poll for Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign, both showed Grimes 1 or 2 points up against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. There's little consensus, however, on whether she has a legitimate shot at winning.

Cook Political Report says yes - “In the wake of two polls that show the race between Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes within the margin of error, the race moves to the Toss Up column. Grimes was ahead of McConnell in both surveys; one was conducted by the Mellman Group for the Grimes campaign, and the other was taken by Public Policy Polling (D)(IVR).” [Cook Political]

As does Princeton Election Consortium’s Sam Wang - “Combining these two polls, there is a 70-30 chance that Mitch McConnell is behind in his reelection race. Note: McConnell has incumbency name recognition. @ppppolls does not say how many think Lundergan Grimes is a Harry Potter character's name.” [@SamWangPhD]

And Jonathan Bernstein, who sees the race as a good Democratic pickup opportunity - “Along with a solid Democratic recruitment in Georgia, Democrats can breath a little easier after what had been a long string of good news for the GOP....Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is running into all kinds of trouble. Not only is Democratic challenger Grimes already polling extremely well but McConnell also has a Tea Party primary challenger to worry about....Bottom line: Republicans will have to net six seats, which will probably mean either knocking off three Democratic incumbents (if Republicans hold Georgia and Kentucky) or, harder, knocking off four Democratic incumbents (if Republicans lose either Georgia or Kentucky).” [WaPost]

Others, however, are more skeptical. University of Virginia Center for Politics’s Kyle Kondik - “Crystal Ball not changing Kentucky-SEN (likely R).” [@kkondik]

Nate Cohn also says not so fast - “Mitch McConnell is a clear favorite because he’s a Republican incumbent running in a red state, assuming he wins the primary. Perhaps this obvious point is being overlooked because of its simplicity, but the fact is that incumbents don’t often lose on friendly terrain....Yesterday’s polls don’t change any of this. The surveys show Grimes in the low-to-mid forties; not bad, but nothing that [Bruce] Lunsford or [Jack] Conway couldn’t manage at various points, and less than Lunsford and Conway’s actual support in the 2008 and 2010 Senatorial elections. Put differently, there’s not yet evidence that Grimes is making inroads into Kentucky’s Republican coalition beyond what’s relatively typical for Democratic senatorial candidates.... History and partisanship suggest that McConnell would still be a relatively clear favorite in a close contest.” [TNR]

NEW CENSUS DIRECTOR CONFIRMED - From the press release: “The United States Senate confirmed John H. Thompson on August 1 as the new director of the U.S. Census Bureau by unanimous consent. Thompson, who was nominated by President Obama on May 23, 2013 has been an executive at the National Opinion Research Center for the past 11 years, serving as president and CEO since 2008....As Census Bureau Director, Thompson will oversee the nearly 180 surveys the Census Bureau conducts annually. He takes office at a critical juncture in the planning process for the 2020 Census, as the agency begins researching and testing new and more cost-effective methods that potentially will save billions of dollars.” [Census]

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

-Harry Enten makes the case for Jeb Bush as a presidential contender. [Guardian]

-Most Americans still want marriage, but its importance has faded. [Gallup]

-The number of adults who say they’ve used marijuana is little changed from the 1980s. [Gallup]

-Someone has knitted a pie chart of the federal budget. [@jbendery]

-12 percent of Alaskans say they can see Russia from their house. [PPP]