Gallup’s out with a new poll on the favorability of the National Rifle Association. Not surprisingly, the number of Republicans who favor the nation’s gun lobby dwarfs that of the number of Democrats.
“Eighty-eight percent of self-identified Republicans say they have very or mostly favorable views of the NRA, compared with 24% of Democrats, a 64-percentage-point gap in positive opinions of the organization,” said the report, which was a result of a poll conducted June 1-13, 2018.
That is the largest gap in positive opinions of the organization since Gallup began tracking this stat 29 years ago (see graph above). The polling company noted that the trend mirrors that of the public’s satisfaction with current gun laws.
“Sixty-nine percent of Republicans said they are satisfied with the country’s gun laws, while 79% of Democrats said they are dissatisfied,” according to a different Gallup survey conducted earlier this year.
More broadly speaking, the NRA still enjoys a slight edge on the favorability question when all Americans are surveyed. Fifty-three percent of Americans expressed favorable opinions of the gun lobby compared to 42 percent that had unfavorable views. Back in 2015, those numbers were at 58 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
“Americans are becoming increasingly partisan on many issues, including guns and gun control. This growing divide between Republicans and Democrats is seen in attitudes toward the NRA. The large partisan gap may be turning support for the NRA — and by extension, gun control legislation — into a litmus test for candidates from the two parties,” states Gallup in its conclusion.
“Given the high percentage of Republicans who view the NRA favorably, it may be extremely difficult for a GOP candidate who opposes the group to win a primary election. Likewise, a pro-NRA Democrat may have trouble emerging from a primary to run in a general election,” it continues.
One factor that the Gallup write-up didn’t specifically address is the ongoing, widespread demonization of the NRA. Since the start of this year alone, at least one governor, congresswoman, mainstream journalist and college professor likened the NRA to a “terrorist” organization.
In other words, it’s no different than ISIS, a militant cadre of sadistic thugs infamous for chopping the heads off of innocent civilians. When one thinks of the NRA, that’s the impression that politicians like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy want one to conjure.
One can argue that this level of hostility towards the NRA is unprecedented. And given this constant barrage of sharp criticism from media and academia and government, it’s actually quite surprising that the NRA is still as popular as it is.
Of course, the NRA has at least one thing going for it. It’s fundamentally about protecting the 2A rights of law-abiding citizens, a position and a purpose that is ultimately unassailable. Because whether in good times or in bad, most everyday Americans see the value in having the capacity to defend themselves, their families and their country from all forms of tyranny.