Here's Why Gun Control Could Be A Defining Issue For Senators In The 2014 Election

Heidi Heitkamp

Senators’ votes on a recently failed amendment to expand background checks on gun purchases could have reverberations in the 2014 election, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll suggests.

According to the poll, 67 per cent of respondents said that the Senate “did the wrong thing” by rejecting the proposal. Only 29 per cent said the Senate “did the right thing.”

Those numbers are echoed by a Pew Research centre poll released Wednesday, which found that 81 per cent of respondents support expanded background checks and 73 per cent want the amendment to pass if it is brought up again in Congress.

The WaPo/ABC poll also suggests that a number of voters care enough about the issue to make it a defining one in an election. According to the poll, 55 per cent would not vote for a candidate who voted against background checks even if they agreed with the candidate on other issues. Meanwhile, 39 per cent said they could still support that candidate.

40-six senators voted against the background check amendment sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), including four Democrats — Sens. Mark Begich of Alaska, Max Baucus of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. Since the failed vote, liberal groups have lined up to challenge Begich and Pryor, who are up for re-election in 2014.

According to the poll, however, Senate Republicans could be in the most trouble if gun control becomes a wedge issue in 2014 — 64 per cent of respondents blamed Republicans in Congress for the amendment’s failure. Other polls have shown a huge plunge in support for key Republican Senators who voted against the amendment and are up for re-election in 2014.

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