Gun control group dials up pressure on Ayotte ahead of Senate votes

The gun control group founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) is increasing pressure on Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteNew Hampshire governor signs controversial voting bill Former Arizona senator to shepherd Supreme Court nominee through confirmation process Shut the back door to America's opioid epidemic MORE (R-N.H.) ahead of Senate votes on firearms legislation Monday, releasing a new poll that shows her trailing Gov. Maggie Hassan in her reelection race.

The survey, taken last week by Americans for Responsible Solutions, found that Ayotte trails Hassan, her likely Democratic opponent this fall, 49 percent to 45 percent. In addition, more New Hampshire voters see Ayotte unfavorably than favorably, 46 percent to 45 percent, according to the poll. 

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A mid-May version of the poll showed Ayotte holding a 2-point lead over Hassen and a better favorability rating, 48 percent favorable to 41 percent unfavorable.

In between the two polls, Americans for Responsible Solutions began airing an ad in New Hampshire that criticizes Ayotte for voting against expanded background checks for gun purchases, asserting that she “stands with the Washington gun lobby” in allowing criminals and the mentally ill to buy guns. 

“Granite Staters have made it pretty clear they support closing loopholes to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, and they’re looking for a senator who will do the same,” said Zach Stewart, political director of the Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC. “As New Hampshire voters hear about Sen. Ayotte’s record of voting the way the gun lobby tells her to, they’re looking for real leadership on gun violence prevention — and they know that isn’t her.”

Gun policy is again receiving national attention after the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, where a gunman who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.

In response to the attack, Senate Democrats demanded votes on gun control legislation, which will take place in the Senate on Monday evening. Procedural votes will be held on four measures related to guns, including a proposal from Democratic Sens. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyFormer Teacher of the Year wins Connecticut primary Live results: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut hold primaries The Hill's Morning Report — Signs of trouble for Republicans in House special election MORE (Conn.), Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerElection Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Senate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh Montana GOP Senate hopeful touts Trump's support in new ad MORE (N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) to require background checks on more gun sales.

Senators will also take a procedural vote on competing proposals that are intended to prevent suspected terrorists from buying guns or explosives.

The votes of Ayotte and other Senate Republicans facing tough reelection races will be closely watched on Monday as Democrats seek to make gun control a bigger issue in the fall campaign.

The Americans for Responsible Solutions poll surveyed 400 likely voters and has a 4.9 percentage point margin of error.