It is and forever will remain a newsworthy event whenever Fox News drops a terrible poll on POTUS. That’s partly because it proves once again how independent the news division over there is from the opinion wing. Pretty much everything in this new survey directly contradicts standard Fox News primetime conventional wisdom.
But partly too it’s because Trump can’t help but interpret bad news for him as the product of a grudge or some illicit bias, even when it’s coming from a scientific poll conducted by the most Trump-friendly major news outlet in America. And so we’re guaranteed to see another round of whiny “Why isn’t Fox News loyal anymore?” presidential tweeting once these numbers make it onto his desk.
Which is always fun.
As bad as this poll is for him personally, it’s worse for the cause of gun rights generally. Here’s the trend on banning assault weapons in Fox polling since the Newtown massacre in late 2012.
Dig into the crosstabs and you’ll find that independents strongly favor the idea at 58/28 while Republicans split dead even at 46. That’s a bit better for gun-rights advocates than last week’s Morning Consult poll, which found 55 percent of Republicans in favor, but both polls go to show that the GOP writ large isn’t as hostile to banning assault weapons as the activist class is. And by “GOP writ large,” I don’t mean country-club types: 61 percent of rural white voters also support a ban, per Fox.
And those numbers, relatively speaking, are actually pretty good for gun-rights supporters. Support for universal background checks here is at 90 percent, with 89 percent of Republicans in favor. Support for red-flag laws (“Allowing police to temporarily take guns away from people who have been shown to be a danger to themselves or others”) runs at an 81 percent clip, including 75 percent of GOPers. To repeat a point I made a few days ago, there’s no doubt that those two measures will pass Congress *eventually*, even if it means waiting another 5-10 years until Dems regain control of government. They’re too popular to be held at bay forever. The strategic reason for gun-rights fans to resist them is to raise the legislative cost to Dems to passing other, more aggressive regulations like an AWB. If Democrats have to move heaven and earth just to expand background checks and pass a red-flag bill, even with both polling at over 80 percent, they’re more likely to hold off on a run at assault weapons. For awhile.
As for Trump, here’s one question on guns that doesn’t bode well for him:
Forty-six percent opposition on any question involving the president is par for the course. What’s notable here is that the usual mirror-image effect, in which Republicans dutifully choose the polling option that reflects well on him, isn’t happening. Even most Republicans aren’t willing to argue that he’s made the country safer (despite his bump-stock ban, remember). Meanwhile, a clear majority of the public thinks the “sentiments” he’s expressed are at least partly to blame for mass shootings over the last few years:
A majority of independents (50/41) say Trump’s “sentiments” are a “great deal” to blame or bear “some” blame for the shootings. Even his base of whites without a college degree is evenly split at 47/47. By comparison, just 38 percent overall say Democratic political leaders bear some blame for shootings.
And just to show you how comprehensive anti-gun feeling is running in this poll, the NRA’s favorable rating is underwater for the first time in a Fox News survey in more than 20 years:
A month after Newtown, the group was still at a healthy 56/33 level. I wonder if it’s left-leaners who are driving the downturn in support, fed up with the spate of mass shootings and the NRA’s opposition to virtually all proposed reforms, or if it’s *right-leaners* who are driving it, disgusted by the managerial chaos that’s plagued the group for months. Could be both, of course.
Add it all together and Trump’s job approval momentarily stands at 43/56, the highest disapproval rating he’s seen at Fox since October 2017. It’s not all because of a gun backlash, though: When asked if imposing tariffs helps or hurts the U.S. economy, the share that says it helps has dropped to just 29 percent, down four points since June. The share that says it hurts is up to 46 percent by comparison. If the economy slips into a recession, Trump will scramble to blame everyone but himself (as usual) — the Fed first and foremost, Congress, George Soros, you name it. But he’s already dangerously close to a majority believing that his favored tactic is doing more harm than good. If this keeps up, he’s going to start backing off the trade war as a matter of pure self-preservation.
In lieu of an exit question, one last piece of data for you. Fifty-seven percent of Democrats say they’d prefer to live in a country where guns are banned:
I hear Australia is lovely. Vaya con Dios, guys!