In Pa. and beyond, polling shows key suburban voters want gun reform

In Pennsylvania, the issue of whether to regulate guns more closely is typically seen as partisan. (Seth Perlman/AP Photo)

In Pennsylvania, the issue of whether to regulate guns more closely is typically seen as partisan. (Seth Perlman/AP Photo)

A Republican polling firm says its latest survey found compelling evidence that a key bloc of swing voters want stricter gun control.

The pollsters, from the group Public Opinion Strategy, surveyed 500 suburban women in five districts, including Pennsylvania’s first congressional.

They found that out of seven options, the women said their highest-priority issue is guns. That option got first choice ranking from 30 percent of respondents. The next, healthcare, garnered 24 percent. National security, at the bottom, had eight percent.

The suburban women overwhelmingly–72 to four percent–said they think gun laws should be stricter, and that they’d be much more likely to vote for a GOP candidate who supports gun control measures like universal background checks and waiting periods for firearms purchases.

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Suburban districts are often home to the moderate voters who help decide elections. Muhlenberg College professor Chris Borick, who runs his own poll, said women are particularly key for a couple of reasons.

“One is, there’s a high turnout rate among the group,” he said. “And two, over the last few decades they have shown a willingness to switch party allegiance.”

The pollsters who conducted the survey didn’t respond to a request for comment, but one, Robert Blizzard, said on Twitter that it is “clear” suburban women want politicians to lobby for stricter gun control.

Outside of Pennsylvania, the women surveyed were from suburbs in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Borick noted, in the commonwealth and elsewhere, Public Opinion Strategy’s findings aren’t unusual.

“Recent polling has really, I think, driven home the fact that this issue has risen in prominence, and is poised to play more of a role in this election than in recent elections,” he said.

Gun control is a relatively partisan issue in Pennsylvania politics, with most statewide Democrats in support of increased restrictions and many Republicans opposed.

In recent years, however, GOP support for targeted control measures–like a recently-passed bill that aims to make it harder for domestic abusers to possess guns — has increased. Several Republicans are trying to rally support for a bill that would allow expedited gun seizures if a person is probably dangerous to themselves or others.

President Donald Trump has expressed support for similar legislation on the federal level.

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