By supporting a measure that would have expanded background checks on gun buyers, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) appear to have found a way to please both fellow Democrats and their red state constituents.The latest survey released Thursday by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed that Landrieu and Hagan actually bolstered their re-election prospects by supporting the background checks legislation. Facing potentially difficult races next year in a pair of states that were carried by Mitt Romney in 2012, Landrieu and Hagan were two of the final Democrats to ultimately pledge support for the measure, which ultimate failed in the Senate last month. Four other red state Democrats joined most Republicans to vote against the legislation.
But PPP’s findings, the latest in the firm’s ongoing effort to gauge reaction to the gun bill, suggested that the votes will be more of an advantage than a disadvantage for Landrieu and Hagan.
In Louisiana, the poll found that 71 percent of voters support “requiring background checks for all gun sales, including gun shows and the Internet.” Forty-four percent of voters there said they are more likely to back Landrieu in 2014 as a result of her vote. Meanwhile, just a little more than a quarter said they are less likely to support her. Another 29 percent said her vote will make no difference on whether they support Landrieu for re-election.
Conversely, Landrieu’s Republican colleague from Louisiana, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), earned low marks for his opposition to the background checks measure. The poll showed that 40 percent of voters are less likely to support Vitter, who will be up for re-election in 2016.
An overwhelming majority of Hagan’s constituents in North Carolina — 73 percent — are also in favor of expanding background checks. Fifty-two percent of Tar Heel State voters said they are now more likely to vote for Hagan in 2014 because she supported the bipartisan Senate bill. And much like in Louisiana, Hagan’s Republican counterpart may have committed a political pratfall by opposing the bill. Half of North Carolina voters said they are now less likely to support Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) as a result of his “no” on the background checks legislation. Burr will be up for re-election in 2016.
PPP has tracked the public’s attitudes toward the gun bill since it fizzled in the Senate. The firm released another poll last week showing Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) facing a sizable backlash in New Hampshire over her “no” vote. At a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Ayotte was confronted by the daughter of a woman who was killed in the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.
PPP released a larger poll earlier this week showing similar blowback for five other senators who also opposed the measure, including Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), whose approval rating fell to 32 percent after the vote.
Meanwhile, a poll from Quinnipiac University showed that Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), one of the co-authors of the background checks legislation, drew a bounce at home for his efforts on the bill.