Ringside Seat: Guns Don't Support Senators. Voters Do.

It has long been axiomatic among political professionals that gun-rights supporters vote based on the gun issue, while those who favor more restrictive gun laws don't. Consequently, office-holders believe that contradicting the National Rifle Association (NRA) carries a political cost, while supporting the NRA's position doesn't, even when the group is at odds with what most Americans want. That may partly explain why expanded background checks, which polls have shown enjoy the support of nine out of ten Americans, weren't able to overcome a Republican filibuster to pass the Senate.

But that conventional wisdom may turn out to be wrong. A new round of polls from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic polling firm (but one with an admirable record for accuracy) shows that senators who voted against the background check bill have suffered losses in their standing among home-state voters since the bill failed. And polls in Louisiana and North Carolina show Senators Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagen, both of whom are up for re-election next year, getting high marks from their constituents for voting in favor of background checks.

Meanwhile, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has been getting the kind of news coverage few politicians want, with angry constituents confronting her at town meetings over her opposition to the background-check bill. She made the national news when the daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary principal went to one of Ayotte's town meetings and asked her how the "burden" Ayotte was worried about imposing on gun-shop owners stacked up against the burden on victims of gun violence.

Perhaps by the time the next election rolls around, all this will be forgotten. But at the moment, it looks like, for the first time in many years, those who oppose any and all restrictions on guns may actually be paying a price for the position they've chosen to take. Imagine that.

So They Say

"Warren is in the house."

Warren Buffett's first tweet everyone

Daily Meme: Rove Strikes Back ... But So Do Dems

  • 2012 may have sucked, but whatever. Karl Rove is over it. Now, on to 2014!
  • Rove, who has been heavily addicted to the permanent campaign for over a decade, wrote a not-so-subtle threat in The Wall Street Journal today on the midterms: "2014 represents a great opportunity for Republicans: they'd better not let it get away."
  • And so it begins. Republicans are dutifully following orders, racing toward 2014 with Karl Rove and American Crossroads leading the way, setting up super PAC after super PAC in their wake.
  • A former Ron Paul and Rand Paul advisor is teaming up with American Crossroads, which in the past had been reluctant to embrace the GOP's libertarian wing. But this last election cycle surely left it a little desperate.
  • Liberty Works, a voter-data collecting company started after some prodding from Karl Rove, is teaming up with the RNC to try to make the it as hip as the opposition.
  • Dems are playing the game just as hard. Eighteen months out, CREDO super PAC, started by the progressive mobile company of the same name, is firing  up its campaign against Michele Bachmann.
  • House Majority PAC—2012's super PAC MVP—is also spending away. Both it and CREDO are proving that both parties now sing the gospel of big money. 
  • But there are plenty of groups trying to stop super PACs getting out of hand before 2014. There's a campaign-finance reform bill in the Senate called Follow the Money Act 2013; it's the first bipartisan bill to take on super PACs.
  • And Jonathan Soros—yes, that Soros's kid—is using his super PAC's money to support candidates who favor stricter regulations on super PACs. 


What We're Writing

  • When sequester cuts to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) left upper-middle-class Americans in the lurch, a formerly recalcitrant Republican congress was all ears. Instead of taking advantage of this, writes Jonathan Bernstein, Democrats caved.
  • Various pundits are in a tizzy over "isolationists" that who want to invade Syria or drone-strike the rest of the known world. Matt Duss points out that there's a middle ground between total war and cutting our overseas phone lines

What We're Reading

  • The fact that we have no permanent assistant secretary for Asia is getting to be a big problem given that another American has been detained and sentenced to hard labor in North Korea
  • That John Kerry also has no permanent assistant for the Middle East speaks volumes about the effectiveness of our drone diplomacy and how well it's working (for al-Qaeda).
  • But Republican obstructionism can't explain everything, especially the 100-day-old hunger strike at Guantánamo—a problem that President "I'm totally gonna close it" Obama has yet to address.
  • And nothing can explain why so many former representatives sat down to listen to a seminar about space aliens. Mother Jones thinks that Roswell-truthers might have some good points, anyway.
  • In other news, Mitt Romney used his commencement speech at Southern Virginia University to advocate for having as many kids as possible as fast as possible (and outpopulate the liberals).
  • Two guys in Nevada pushed a sequence of buttons on a slot machine that, because of a bug, made it pay out. Now they, like Aaron Schwartz, are facing federal hacking charges. It's as well-defined as WMD.

Poll of the Day

Pew asked Americans what they thought of the immigration bill being debated in Congress, and it was a pretty even split between those who favor (33 percent), those who oppose (28 percent), and those who don't know (38 percent). Democrats and the college educated are more in favor, but interestingly, Republican-leaning Independents opposed the bill more strongly than Republicans, 51 percent to 34, respectively. Finally, because anger is stronger than knowledge, 36 percent of Americans feel that the Boston bombings should be an "important factor" in the debate over immigration.