There are two questions on every issue that every politician worries about: Do my constituents care? And, more importantly, how much do they care?

The gun lobby has long held an ace card. Although many people say they would like to see more gun control, the people who oppose gun control in any form are much more motivated and active. Members of Congress know this, which is mostly why we don’t have sensible restrictions on firearms.

Background checks are a great example of this. Although polls in the past showed support for expanded background checks at 94 percent, Congress didn’t budge. The 6 percent of Americans at the time who opposed such legislation were prepared to act on their convictions.

Since the failure this spring to pass new gun legislation, much has been written and much has been said, and a shift may have taken place. A new poll shows support for background checks at 71 percent, but, crucially, 51 percent of voters, including 30 percent of Republicans, say they are less likely in next year’s midterm elections to support a candidate who voted against such legislation.

Furthermore, Public Policy Polling, which conducted the survey, says that the NRA simply doesn’t have the juice politicians and media commentators think:

Fear of the NRA seems to drive much of the opposition to gun legislation, but our polling continues to find its brand just isn’t that strong with average voters. It has a narrowly positive favorability rating at 43/41. But 40% of voters say they’re less likely to vote for an NRA supported candidate to only 28% who would be more likely to, suggesting there’s a greater intensity of feeling among voters with a negative view of the organization.

(Hat tip to Political Wire)

— Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.

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