04/04/2014 05:50 pm ET

HUFFPOLLSTER: Past Polls Predict Little Change In Texas' Gun Control Debate


Past polling suggests that the Fort Hood shooting is unlikely to lead to support for gun control. Americans don't like Obamacare, but they don't want to repeal it either. And we have am Obama/Putin polling showdown you won’t want to miss. This is HuffPollster for Friday, April 4, 2014.

FEW TEXANS SUPPORT INCREASED GUN CONTROL - Jim Henson and Joshua Blank, on Texans' likely reaction to the shooting at Fort Hood: "To the extent that we see a renewed discussion of gun control in Texas, attitudes toward guns here strongly suggest that any discussion will almost certainly be dominated by talk of increasing access to guns, not curtailing it. When confronted with the horrors of mass shootings, most Texans appear likely to embrace self-defense over tightening controls on access to guns. In the February 2013 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we asked Texas voters an exhaustive set of questions about their attitudes toward gun control. A slight majority of Texans – 52 percent – said that gun control laws should either be left as they are now or made less strict….Amid reports that the suspected shooter in the latest Fort Hood incident may have been experiencing mental health problems, we did find some tolerance for the regulation of gun ownership if it involved background checks for a history of mental illness (or criminal records)." [Texas Tribune]

AMERICANS DON'T WANT TO GIVE UP ON OBAMACARE - Emily Swanson: "Americans may be starting to cool down the frenzy over Obamacare. They don't like the health care law, but they really don't want to start all over, so they're ready to tinker with it, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. Forty-one percent of Americans in the new poll said they support the health care law, while 50 percent said they were opposed. That's similar to another HuffPost/YouGov survey conducted in January, which found that 38 percent had a favorable opinion of the law and 52 percent had an unfavorable opinion….On the other hand, only 35 percent in the new HuffPost/YouGov poll said they think of the new law as an improvement, while 45 percent said it will make things worse and 6 percent said it will make no difference. Fourteen percent said they weren't sure. Americans who wanted to keep the law were more likely to say they didn't know whether the new system will be better or worse than were those who wanted to repeal the law." [HuffPost]

IS THAD COCHRAN VULNERABLE TO A TEA PARTY CHALLENGE? - A poll sponsored by the Tea Party Express and conducted by NSON Opinion Strategy finds Cochran 8 points ahead of Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel in Mississippi: "In the initial ballot test, Cochran led McDaniel 44.6% to 36.5% in a head to head matchup for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. Once voters become familiar with the support for McDaniel from the Tea Party Express and other Tea Party groups, McDaniel pulled into a narrow lead, 42.1% to 41.3%." [Tea Party Express]

Stu Rothenberg sees Cochran as the underdog - "Forget about Matt Bevin’s challenge to Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky Republican primary or Milton Wolf’s bid to knock off Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts in that state’s GOP contest. The Senate primary to watch is Mississippi’s. State Sen. Chris McDaniel has the best chance of any anti-establishment Senate hopeful to knock off an incumbent, and the defeat of six-term Senate veteran Thad Cochran would send shock waves through both the national media and the Republican Party...This race isn’t complicated. It pits a pragmatic, traditional Southern Republican against an anti-establishment 'Constitutional' conservative who opposes compromise and won’t vote for any solution short of dismantling government. A small turnout probably favors McDaniel, while a big one should benefit Cochran. The senator’s strategists are concerned that Cochran’s supporters don’t yet understand the seriousness of McDaniel’s challenge, and the challenger’s supporters are confident that the energy is with their candidate. " [Rothenberg Political Report]

AMERICANS ARE MORE CONCERNED BY POLLUTION THAN GLOBAL WARMING - Frank Newport: "A little more than a third [of Americans] say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change or about global warming, putting these concerns at the bottom of a list of eight environmental issues….Americans' concerns about global warming and climate change have held steady over the past year, while concerns about other environmental threats tested by Gallup have increased. The percentage expressing a great deal of worry about pollution of drinking water, as well as contamination of soil and water by toxic waste, increased by seven percentage points. Worry about climate change and global warming, on the other hand, went up by no more than two points versus last year. Americans' generally low level of concern about global warming compared with other environmental issues is not new; warming has generally ranked last among Americans' environmental worries each time Gallup has measured them with this question over the years. Concern about pollution of drinking water has generally been at the top of the list." [Gallup]

BECAUSE IT'S FRIDAY: AMERICANS THINK OBAMA WOULD BEST PUTIN AT HUNGRY HUNGRY HIPPOS - HuffPollster, with Emily Swanson: "A recent Fox News poll found that voters think Vladimir Putin would beat President Barack Obama at a game of chess. So, we wondered, if chess represents strategic thinking and the ability to anticipate your opponent's moves, what could other classic games tell us about how skirmishes between the two leaders will play out? We took the idea to its logical conclusion (yes, this is the logical conclusion -- quiet) and asked Americans to weigh in on a new HuffPost/YouGov poll….Obama wins [at Hungry Hungry Hippos], by a narrow 34 to 28 margin. Thirty-eight percent of Americans were too stunned to respond, apparently." [HuffPost]

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

-A Marketing Resource Group (R) poll finds Gov. Rick Snyder (R) leading his challenger, but by a narrowing margin. [MLive]

-Harper Polling (R) finds Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) comfortably leading. [Harper]

-A Magellan Strategies (R) poll finds Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) with only slim leads over his GOP rivals [Magellan]

-Harry Enten finds as many early Senate races polled (at least once) in 2014 as in past years, but worries that its quality has declined. [538]

-Illinois residents are more distrustful of their state government than residents of any other state. [Gallup]

-Charlie Cook lays out his Republican bracket [National Journal]

-Jay Cost (R) doubts Democrats can hold the Senate. [Weekly Standard]

-The U.S. isn't really that religiously diverse. [Pew Research]

-Jonathan Bernstein takes NPR to task for reporting a 1-point difference in approval as significant. [Bloomberg]

-Quartz maps the most unusually popular Starbucks drinks by city. [Quartz]

-@fakethirtyeight has some surprising findings about data visualizations. [@fakethirtyeight]