Democrats certainly have the advantage on some key issues. The latest Quinnipiac University poll should tell them that their position on the environment, guns and race enjoy broad, and in some cases bipartisan, support.
On guns, Democrats are in an even stronger position. “Congress needs to do more to reduce gun violence say 72 percent of voters, including 50 percent of Republicans, 93 percent of Democrats, and 75 percent of independents. Voters say 60 - 34 percent that they support stricter gun laws in the United States. An identical 60 percent support a nationwide ban on assault weapons, including 37 percent of Republicans, 85 percent of Democrats, and 60 percent of independents.” Eighty percent back “red flag” laws, 82 percent support gun licensing, and 93 percent favor universal background checks.
The numbers are even more stunning when you look at prized suburban voters who, in 2018, started shifting strongly toward Democrats. Among those voters, 96 percent favor background checks, 62 percent favor an assault weapons ban, 82 percent favor red flag laws, and 85 percent support gun licensing. As this has become a bigger and bigger issue, especially for female voters, they’d be wise to put this front and center in 2020. Where Democrats lose voters is on mandatory assault weapons buybacks. (“46 percent of voters support the concept, including a meager 18 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats, and 47 percent of independents.”)
When the issue moves to race, even Republicans acknowledge that things are worse under Trump. “In general, 64 percent of voters believe that the level of hatred and prejudice in the United States has increased since the 2016 election, with 28 percent saying it hasn’t changed, and 6 percent saying it has decreased.” Even more striking, “56 percent of voters say that President Trump’s language and behavior have played a role in motivating white supremacists to commit violence, while 40 percent disagree.” Even 38 percent of Republicans think “the level of hatred and prejudice in the U.S. has increased” since Trump’s election. Seventy-four percent of voters think prejudice against minorities is a very or somewhat serious problem. On the generic question, only 26 percent of voters (23 percent of women) say he makes them feel more safe.
In virtually all these questions, the percentage of women, white women and college-educated voters (both men and women) leans more heavily in Democrats’ favor than the population at large. For example, 73 percent of white women (vs. 60 percent of all voters) favor banning assault rifles.
counterpointGun rights advocates do themselves no favors by not addressing gun violence
As we have seen in issue and candidate polling over the past year or so, Republicans under Trump are losing key groups that were part of the GOP winning coalition in the past. Trump has doubled down on his base, but in total, numbers show that he has adopted positions off-putting to many more voters. If Democrats make clear they take climate change seriously, will pursue an array of gun safety laws and take prejudice seriously, they will very likely increase their chances of holding on to these precious voters. If they do that, Trump and the GOP will be toast.