(R-NRA) capitulated to the gun lobby in stopping even an up-or-down vote on expanding background checks and implementing other hugely popular gun safety reforms, his political standing has taken a real hit. Don't believe me? Believe Public Policy Polling [PPP]'s latest battleground state survey on gun safety.
And in Nevada Dean Heller has seen a more modest decline in his approval numbers, from 47/42 right before the election to 44/41 now. However with the independent voters who were critical to his narrow victory in November, his approval has dropped from 52/37 then to now 42/42.
70% of voters in the state support background checks compared to just 24% who are opposed to them. That includes 87% of Democrats, 65% of independents, and 54% of Republicans. 46% say they're less likely to support Heller the next time he's up for reelection compared to only 25% who are more likely to because of this vote, and as we saw last fall Heller has very little margin for error.
Taken together these results make it pretty clear that this issue could be a serious liability for the Senators who opposed overwhelmingly popular background checks in the Senate vote earlier this month.
Actually, Heller hasn't fared quite as badly as some of his fellow pro-NRA colleagues. Steve Benen dug into the PPP poll some more and noticed this.
We talked last week about two Republican senators from blue-ish states whose support is moving in opposite directions. On the one hand, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who championed a bipartisan compromise on gun reforms, has seen his approval rating reach new heights. On the other, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) has seen her support back home drop sharply.
It turns out these two aren't the only senators seeing real shifts in their popularity among their constituents. [...]
There is a fair amount of variety in the results, with voters in some states reacting with greater intensity than others. [Jeff] Flake [R-Arizona], for example, has suddenly found himself as one of the nation's least popular senators, with an approval rating of just 32%. In Alaska, both senators opposed the gun bill and both saw their support drop quite a bit, though supporters still number critics.
Nevada's Heller only lost a few points off his approval rating, but among self-identified independents, his support has dropped from 52% to 42%.
That said, of all the polls from the last week, the only senator who saw an increase in support was Toomey -- and he co-sponsored the measure to expand background checks. PPP's analysis concluded, "Taken together these results make it pretty clear that this issue could be a serious liability for the Senators who opposed overwhelmingly popular background checks in the Senate vote earlier this month."
Keep this in mind as efforts to resuscitate the legislation continue.
It's increasingly looking like Senator Heller is facing real consequences for his failure to even allow an actual vote on his home state colleague's (Senator Harry Reid [D-Searchlight Strong]) gun safety bill. After all, PPP found 70% support for expanding background checks. And that's actually a conservative sample, since other recent polls have shown support for expanding background checks as high as 86% here in Nevada.
Long story short: Heller blew it. He could have backed policies that have broad support among Nevadans (with some even reaching supermajority levels). And he could have demonstrated true independence and "moderation". But instead, Senator Heller drank the "TEA" and caved into the gun lobby's extreme demands.
And now, Heller is just starting to face the consequences. Congratulations, Senator. You earned it.