skip to main content

Gun Control Remains an Important Factor for U.S. Voters

by RJ Reinhart

Story Highlights

  • 24% of voters say a candidate must share their views on gun control
  • 12% say gun control isn't a factor in voting
  • Republicans, Democrats view issue with similar intensity

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More than six in 10 (61%) U.S. registered voters say gun control is one of many important factors in choosing the candidate they vote for, up from 54% in 2015, the last time Gallup asked this question. At the same time, the percentage dismissing gun control entirely as a voting issue is at a new low of 12%. And nearly a quarter of U.S. registered voters, 24%, say they would vote only for a candidate who shares their views on gun control, basically unchanged from 2015.

Importance of a Candidate's Stance on Gun Control to Americans' Votes
Thinking about how the gun issue might affect your vote for major offices, would you -- only vote for a candidate who shares your views on gun control, would you consider a candidate's position on gun control as just one of many important factors when voting or would you not consider gun control a major issue?
Only vote for candidate who shares views One of many important factors Not a major issue
% % %
Oct 5-11, 2017 24 61 12
Oct 7-11, 2015 26 54 17
May 5-7, 2000 11 64 23
Jun 25-27, 1999 15 63 21
May 23-24, 1999 14 65 19
Based on registered voters
Gallup

These data come from Gallup's annual Crime survey, conducted Oct. 5-11. This was shortly after the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest such shooting in U.S. history. Overall, 85% of registered voters now indicate that the gun issue will at least factor into their voting for major offices, the highest in Gallup's limited trend.

Gun Control Plays Similar Roles in Voting, Regardless of Party

Gun control is just one of a number of issues that Americans have become more polarized about in recent years, with the gap in views on making gun laws stricter growing wider between Republicans and Democrats. Additionally, gun ownership varies significantly by political partisanship, with 43% of Republican registered voters and 16% of Democratic registered voters saying they own a gun.

Despite having sharply diverging views on gun control and their differences in gun ownership, Republican and Democratic voters differ only marginally in how gun control issues would affect their vote.

Importance of Candidate's Stance on Gun Control, by Subgroup
Thinking about how the gun issue might affect your vote for major offices, would you -- only vote for a candidate who shares your views on gun control, would you consider a candidate's position on gun control as just one of many important factors when voting or would you not consider gun control a major issue?
Only vote for candidate who shares views One of many important factors Not a major issue
% % %
All registered voters 24 61 12
Gun owners 30 56 12
Gun non-owners 20 63 13
Republicans 23 62 14
Independents 23 62 14
Democrats 25 60 9
Conservatives 32 53 13
Moderates 16 63 16
Liberals 23 68 7
Based on registered voters
Gallup, Oct. 5-11, 2017

Somewhat larger differences emerge among political ideological groups more generally. Conservative voters are nine percentage points more likely than liberal voters to say a candidate must share their views, although liberals more than make up this difference in saying that gun control would be one of many factors they take into account. Moderate voters feel less intensely about the issue than either conservatives or liberals.

Three in 10 (30%) gun owners who are registered to vote say they will vote only for a candidate who shares their views on gun control, compared with 20% of gun non-owners. The current views of both groups are similar to what they said in 2015. The importance of the issue to both groups' vote is up substantially from 2000, when 13% of gun owners and 10% of non-owners expressed this view.

Gallup Analytics
Subscribe to our online platform and access nearly a century of primary data.

Implications

For more than eight in 10 U.S. registered voters, a candidate's position on gun control factors into their choice of candidate for major offices, although just one-quarter say they would vote only for a candidate who shares their views on guns. While Republican and Democratic voters have differing views on how stringent gun control should be in the U.S., their insistence that the candidates they vote for share these views is about the same.

Gun owners are often portrayed as devoted, single-issue voters. However, the current data show gun-owning voters have only a 10-point edge over gun non-owners in their willingness to vote exclusively for a candidate who shares their views.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 5-11, 2017, with a random sample of 890 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia who are registered to vote. For results based on the total sample of registered voters, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Gallup


Gallup http://news.gallup.com/poll/220748/gun-control-remains-important-factor-voters.aspx
Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030