Sen. Pat Toomey’s (R-Pa.) work on a bipartisan gun background checks bill has boosted the Pennsylvania Republican to his highest job approval rating ever in his home state, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.
Toomey has always been above water with Pennsylvania voters, but his 18-percentage point positive margin in April is a significant jump from his 11-percentage point positive margin in March.
Voters in the state said they approved of Toomey’s handling of the bill, 34 percent to 29 percent. By a 54-to-12 margin, voters said they think more highly of him because of his efforts to expand background checks.
“Pennsylvania voters are dissatisfied, and many are angry, with the U.S. Senate’s failure to act on gun control,” Quinnipiac University assistant polling director Tim Malloy said in a statement.
“By wide, sometimes overwhelming margins, they still want action. Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey gains ground with both parties by calling for stiffer background checks for prospective gun owners.”
Pennsylvania has trended Democratic in recent presidential elections, and voters in the state strongly support increased background check measures, with 69 percent saying they’re strongly in favor. Still, that’s less than the measure’s nation-wide support, and Toomey’s voter-support windfall could help convince other senators to get on board.
Earlier this month, a background checks bill sponsored by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) failed to get the 60 votes it needed to move forward. As a result, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) tabled the underlying bill that would have beefed up school safety and cracked down on illegal gun purchasers to focus on other issues.
With background checks and a proposal to ban military-style semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity bullet magazines off the table, Democrats have lost the reforms they argued would have the biggest impact on curbing gun violence.
Democratic leaders have yet to announce their next steps on the gun control bill. But The New York Times reported Friday that Toomey and Manchin are quietly working behind the scenes to revive expanded background checks by tweaking the legislative language in a way to make it a less politically charged issue.
The Quinnipiac University poll of 1,235 Pennsylvania voters was conducted between April 19 and April 24 and has 2.8 percentage point margin of error.