When Republicans wage opposition to stricter gun laws, they may be compounding the party’s already precarious standing among women.
The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released early Thursday morning found a majority of Americans — 55 percent — expressing support for tougher gun measures. That finding is mostly par for the course, as polls conducted since the December mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. have consistently shown majority support for stricter gun laws. But dig deeper in the post-Newtown polling, and a similarly consistent trend emerges: women are far more receptive to gun control than men.The NBC/WSJ poll was no exception. It found that while 65 percent of female respondents favor stricter gun laws, only 44 percent of male respondents felt the same way.
“It’s easily one of the largest policy gender gaps we’ve seen in years,” NBC’s “First Read” team wrote of the finding.
But it was hardly the first poll to show such a gap. A national poll from Quinnipiac University released last week found that a whopping majority of 61 percent of women support stricter gun laws, while a slight majority of 51 percent of men are opposed.
In fact, Quinnipiac’s two previous national polls showed similar numbers. March’s poll from Quinnipiac showed 57 percent of women supporting stricter gun laws, while half of men said they were opposed. In February, more than 60 percent of women again said they supported tougher gun measures while, again, a majority of 55 percent of men were opposed.
Ditto for a CNN/ORC International poll in January that showed 65 percent of women favored stricter gun laws and 55 percent of men said they were opposed. A national poll conducted in late-January and early-February by Democratic-leaning Public Policy actually found a plurality of 48 percent of men supporting stricter gun laws, but that was still much lower than the 58 percent of women who took the same position.
At a Senate hearing on gun violence in January, much of the testimony from pro-gun advocate Gayle Trotter was predicated on claims that “guns make women safer” and women at home need a “scary-looking gun.” But the polls suggest that Democrats may have a wedge issue to exploit the same gender gap that benefited them so much in last year’s election. A poll in February from the progressive group Women Donors Network found that the gun issue could motivate many women who don’t normally participate in midterms to vote in the 2014 elections.