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Landrieu’s gun votes improve her 2014 polls

6th May 2013   ·   0 Comments

By Christopher Tidmore
Contributing Writer

Political pundits were stumped by Sen. Mary Landrieu’s decision to vote against bans on assault weapons but for expanded background checks in the recent post-Newtown gun bill. However, a recent survey by Progressive Policy Polling indicates Louisiana’s Senior Senator may have made the right combination of votes, pro and con.

National polls did put public support at including Internet and gun shows in the national background check system at 90 percent, where as bans on assault weapons had far less a ubiquitous backing—particularly in Louisiana, where 70 percent of the electorate supported the former, but rejected the later by a comfortable majority.

On the surface, Landrieu seemed to vote where her constituents stood; however, gun polls are misleading. Those that vote for and against gun control are a passionate, but small minority. Only between four to ten percent vote on the gun issue alone, yet for them a member of Congress is either on one side or the other.

Spilting the difference seemed designed to aggravate NRA-focused conservatives who had narrowly been sympathetic to moderate Democrats that stood with them 100 percent. It also appeared a strategy designed to irritate activists within Landrieu’s African-American base. Without enthusiastic support from the pro-gun control, Black electorate, winning a fourth term for the Senior Senator could prove impossible.

A Progressive Policy Poll, re­leased on May 2, indicated that the way Landrieu voted may have improved her chances of re-election, though, activists’ opinions to the contrary.

PPP conducted surveys in Nor­th Carolina and Louisiana, states with a GOP Senator who opposed the bill and a Democrat who voted for the final product. Landrieu’s polls improved.

Both North Carolina and particularly Louisiana are red-leaning, and they each have a Democratic senator up for re-election next year who voted in favor of enhanced background checks. They also both have a Republican senator who voted against.

The liberal website Dailykos, which had taken Landrieu to task for her split decision noted, “Outdated conventional wisdom says that both Landrieu and Hagan took a major risk in supporting background checks, but it actually looks like they may have helped themselves: Landrieu’s approvals have jumped, while a majority say Hagan’s vote makes them more like to voter for her. Meanwhile, their GOP counterparts have, like ‘no’ voters elsewhere, put themselves in rougher shape electorally, especially Burr.”

Undoubtedly the NRA will try to blur all distinctions and paint senators like Hagan and Landrieu as jackbooted gun-grabbers—but they were going to do that anyway. Now, instead, supporters of expanded background checks will be able to say that they stood up for a popular, common-sense measure, and if they play their cards right, it’ll be their opponents who wind up on the defensive.”

This article originally published in the May 6, 2013 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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