Two new polls: Disapproval of Obama's handling of gun policy over 50 percent

After last night’s QOTD about a backlash brewing against GOP senators who voted no on background checks, I owe you some data pointing the other way. First, Quinnipiac:


Then the NYT/CBS:


Identical question, identical results. Jacob Sullum wonders if the downturn in O’s numbers is due in part to his “eagerness to claim the moral high ground by clambering onto the bloody corpses of children”. Could be; it’s certainly contributing to his disapproval among gun-rights supporters. My hunch with numbers like these, though, is that Obama’s underwater mainly due to discontent among his own supporters that he didn’t do enough to get some new gun-control measure passed. There are lots of Dems and some indies who are grumpy that he didn’t use the magic of Hopenchange charisma to convince Mark Pryor to take a potentially suicidal vote on background checks. So they disapprove, and of course most Republicans disapprove because they oppose new gun-control regs on principle. That’s how you get to 52 percent. More data from the NYT/CBS poll supports the theory that most of the public agreed with him on Toomey/Manchin:


So there you have it. Gun-control fans are mad that the newly reelected president didn’t have enough juice to get expanded background checks through Congress, despite having spent four months all but accusing the NRA and its GOP allies of endorsing child murder. The disapproval numbers are a commentary on O’s weakness, not on the issue itself.

Or are they?


I’m not sure how to square that number with the numbers above. People think gun laws should be more strict, they’re disappointed/angry about the Senate votes … and yet, when push comes to shove, they trust the Republicans who voted down those stricter laws more than they do The One himself. Hmmm. Here’s a theory: Although most of the public disagrees with the GOP position on Toomey/Manchin specifically, they’re so suspicious of the Democrats’ plans for more aggressive gun control (starting with an assault-weapons ban) that they prefer Republicans’ judgment on this issue generally — even at a moment when they’re on the other side of a particular gun-control proposal. That’s good news and bad news for gun-rights supporters. Good news, of course, because it suggests that even if something on background checks ends up passing, the grand liberal plan for greater gun confiscation faces huge obstacles politically. But bad news because maybe it’ll provide some cover for Toomey/Manchin fencesitters like Kelly Ayotte and Jeff Flake to switch if/when the bill comes back. They can vote for background checks to get right with majority opinion on this single issue, then dig in against any other gun-control bill and count on public support. Lefty Michael Tomasky hears whispers that up to eight senators, some Democratic and some Republican, might be prepared to flip-flop on the T/M bill if it’s brought up again. We shall see.

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