New polls: No change in support for assault weapons ban, also huge spike in support for assault weapons ban

Polls, man. What can you do? Can’t live with ’em, can’t live—

I suppose we could live without them, actually. But then where would the easy blog content come from?

New from Quinnipiac, whose numbers are almost always grim for Republicans:

Dems are nearly unanimous, indies split two-thirds in favor, and Republicans are divided almost down the middle. Smells like a new AWB is cooking if/when Democrats regain control of government.

But wait. New from WaPo:

Two-thirds of Republicans are *against* the ban here while indies tilt narrowly against it and Democratic support barely clears 70 percent. What gives? There’s no meaningful difference in how the two pollsters phrased the question. It’s true that WaPo’s poll shows the numbers for all adults while Quinnipiac’s measures registered voters, but the numbers for RVs in WaPo’s poll aren’t significantly different. It’s a 51/45 split instead of the 50/46 split shown here for all adults. Could the disparity be due to the fact that the pollsters were in the field on different dates? Possibly: WaPo’s poll was conducted from February 15-18 while Qunnipiac’s was pushed back slightly, from February 16-19. Conceivably there’s been a very recent upswing in favor of an AWB as Americans watch kids from Stoneman Douglas lobby for it on TV. But … a 16-point difference in the span of a day or two? C’mon.

When in doubt, blame discrepancies in the sample. But a lopsided sample in favor of Democrats in the Quinnipiac poll wouldn’t explain the stark differences *within* parties in the two polls. What explains Republicans splitting 43/49 on an AWB in Qunnipiac and 29/67 in WaPo?

There’s a third new poll on guns out, from HuffPost/YouGov, but unfortunately there’s no question about the assault weapons ban to break the tie here. YouGov does find support for the idea that Congress should take action to try to prevent mass shootings, with 48 percent agreeing versus just a third percent who believe there’s no legislation that can help. That’s a shift from last year, when the numbers were roughly evenly split. There’s strong backing for congressional action in the other two polls too, with both asking if Congress is doing enough to prevent mass killings. Quinnipiac got a 17/75 divide on that while WaPo got 19/77. Both polls also show heavy support for the idea of making gun laws stricter in the abstract, with Quinnipiac registering the highest numbers it’s ever seen on that question — 66/31. And on the specific question of universal background checks, the public is statistically unanimously in favor at 97/2. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a polling question, political or not, draw agreement to the tune of +95.

But here’s an interesting number from WaPo:

Fully 77 percent of Americans agreed that better mental health screening might have prevented the Parkland shooting. By comparison, just 58 percent thought stricter gun laws might have prevented it. Not an either/or proposition, of course, but that gives you a sense of where priorities lie.

One last number, just to help us figure out whether Quinnipiac’s or WaPo’s data is more reliable. Quinnipiac has the generic ballot at 53/38 in favor of Democrats, an enormous lead — among the biggest of the past six months, and one that would certainly portend a major landslide this fall. The problem for Dems is that it’s an outlier. The generic ballot has tightened in most other surveys taken this month. Unless Quinnipiac is picking up a very sudden and pronounced swing left among the electorate, which would contradict the good vibes the GOP is getting from its tax law lately, its data seems less credible than WaPo’s does.