MSNBC Correspondent: Polls Don’t Accurately Reflect ‘Complicated, Messy’ Views on Background Checks

• March 2, 2018 4:35 pm


MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki on Friday dove into poll numbers on universal background checks for gun purchases and how the numbers haven't accurately reflected voters' behavior.

Kornacki first showed results from a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll where 97 percent of those polled said they supported universal background checks on gun purchases, indicating a seemingly uncontroversial issue.

However, Kornacki went on to show some additional numbers that sharply question the notion of it being an straigtforward issue.

After the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2013, support for universal background checks polled at 92 percent in a Quinnipiac poll. However, the U.S. Congress did not end up passing a bipartisan amendment–championed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.)–that would have required background checks on all commercial sales of guns.

Kornacki showed a list of 13 senators who took part in that vote in 2013 and were up for reelection in 2014. All 11 Republicans shown voted against the measure and were reelected to the Senate the next year. Meanwhile, the two Democrats who also voted against the measure lost their seats to Republicans. Kornacki noted the newly elected Republicans were "probably even more conservative on guns."

The MSNBC corespondent further pointed out that Maine voted against universal background checks in a 2016 referendum.

"If 90-plus percent of people support it, if you put it on a ballot it can't fail. Well, they put it on a ballot in Maine and it failed," Kornacki said.

In the Maine referendum, 52 percent voted against the measure despite it being on the same ballot as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who won Maine in the 2016 electoral college.

"Attitudes on this issue, when you strip away the basic question there and you get into a real political debate, they seem to default to something a little bit more complicated and messy," Kornacki observed.

Published under: Election, Gun Control, Guns, Maine, MSNBC