For many voters, gun law issues will play a role in deciding which candidates and officials they support in the upcoming election, but the problem is more with Democrats than Republicans, even among voters Republicans who still say they vote in Republican primaries.
On the whole, Americans support both a ban onand increasing background checks and restrictions when it comes to purchasing such weapons, and that support is reflected in how most Americans would view the issue when voting. Overall, most voters would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported more background checks on semi-automatic weapons, and a plurality would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported gun-restricting legislation like the AR-15. Conversely, most voters would be less likely to support a candidate who generally opposes all gun restrictions.
Republican and Democratic voters tend to be at odds in the debate over the gun issue in America, but the issue seems to weigh more heavily on Democrats when it comes to voting. While Democrats are particularly motivated when considering how the gun issue would influence their votes, Republicans tend to be less likely than Democrats to say that a candidate’s stance on gun policy would affect his vote.
For example, a large majority of Republicans oppose legislation restricting the AR-15 semi-automatic weapon, and most Republican voters would be less likely to vote for a candidate who supports such restrictions. Still, the percentage who say so is just over half, compared to three in four Democrats who would be more likely to vote for a candidate in favor of restricting AR-15. For three out of 10 Republican voters, the question would make no difference. This is the case for only 12% of Democratic voters.
Republicans tend to be more in tune with Democrats and Independents when it comes to increasing restrictions on who can buy guns, including more background checks or “red flag” laws. and this is also reflected in their voting preferences: Republicans are slightly more likely to vote for a candidate who supports adding background checks and requirements rather than opposing such measures. But then again, four in 10 Republicans say it wouldn’t make a difference to their vote, compared to just 14% of Democrats.
And if a candidate opposed all gun restrictions, 73% of Democratic voters would be less likely to vote for them. For Republican voters, the impact is much less clear: although more likely than less likely to vote for such a candidate, four in 10 Republican voters say it would not change their voting decision.
While a slightly higher percentage of very conservative Republican voters (40%) and those who live in gun-owning households (37%) say they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who opposed to all restrictions on firearms, this percentage is still less than half among these two groups. And just 34% of Republicans who say they always vote in the Republican primaries would be more likely to vote for such a candidate — the same percentage as all Republican voters.
The same is not true for Democratic voters: Democrats who say they always vote in the Democratic primaries are considerably more likely than those who don’t say they would be more likely to vote for someone who supports the restrictions on weapons like the AR-15 and more restrictions on the purchase of semi-automatic weapons and more likely to vote against a candidate who opposes any restrictions on firearms.
This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of 2,021 U.S. adult residents interviewed between June 1 and June 3, 2022. The sample was weighted by gender, age, race, and education based on the US Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as the 2020 presidential election. The margin of error is ±2.6 points.