A PROGRESSIVE VOICE FROM THE LLANO ESTACADO

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Gun Control Poses Problem For GOP

After the GOP's defeat in the 2008 election, they made a comeback in the 2010 election. That happened because their supporters remained energized and voted in 2010, while many other voters sat that election out. They are now hoping the same thing will happen in 2014, and they can get back at least some of what they lost in 2012. But they have a problem that may well prevent that from happening.

That problem is the public's desire for new restrictions on who can buy and possess a gun. The vast majority of the public wants to see new restrictions on gun possession. However, the Republicans in Congress don't want those new restrictions. They know their base doesn't want that, and they are afraid if they support the new restrictions they will face a teabagger in the 2014 primary (and may not even make it to the general election). This reticence to pass any new restrictions was recently personified by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), who said he doesn't think even increasing the background checks will pass the Senate. And the House will be even more difficult than the Senate for new gun legislation.

This puts the Republicans at odds with the American public (80% to 90% of whom want to see more background checks being done to keep the criminals and dangerously mentally ill from buying guns). And it especially puts them at odds with women voters, who are much stronger in their support for a variety of new gun laws.

Now a new bipartisan survey, done by Republican pollster Bob Carpenter and Democratic pollster Diane Feldman, shows that not only are women energized by the new movement to control guns, but it may actually send many of them into the election booth in 2014 to vote their convictions. This is not good news for the Republicans, because these are voters they are counting on to stay at home in 2014.

You may be thinking that gun supporters will also be energized to vote, and you would be right. But those are the Republican voters the GOP is already counting on. What they don't need, and could block their 2014 hopes, are a multitude of women voters who normally sit out off-year elections to also show up in 2014, because they are energized by the fight over new gun restrictions.

If the Republicans in Congress were smart, they would allow some new restrictions to pass fairly quickly -- and defuse the issue as one to be debated in the 2014 campaign. I don't expect them to do that though. They are too afraid the NRA will back a teabagger against them in the primary. That kind of puts them between a rock and a hard place -- vote for new restrictions and face a primary fight, or vote against new restrictions and face a lot of angry and energized women in the general election.

This is interesting. The gun issue could make the 2014 election unlike most off-year elections, and turn out many more Democratic voters than expected.

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