Poll: Rubio, Ayotte feeling pressure over guns

Poll: Rubio, Ayotte feeling pressure over guns
© Greg Nash

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Second Trump-Kim summit planned for next month | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking Afghanistan trip plans | Pentagon warns of climate threat to bases | Trump faces pressure to reconsider Syria exit Pressure mounts for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees MORE’s (R-Fla.) reelection campaign may be complicated by a new poll that finds gun control has become an increasingly important voting issue in his home state following the Orlando mass shooting.

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In Florida, three out of four voters, including 68 percent of Republicans, say they are more likely to vote for politicians who support requiring background checks before all gun sales are completed, according to the survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) that was conducted on behalf of the gun control organization Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Nearly half of Florida voters say they are less inclined to support a politician who opposes expanded background checks, "even if they agree with that candidate on most other issues.”

Rubio, who has consistently opposed background check legislation, has an A-plus rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA). But 69 percent of Florida voters don’t realize this, according to the survey.

Still, Rubio holds a slight 42 percent to 40 percent edge over his Democratic challenger, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), according to the poll.

"A simple informational campaign reminding voters of Rubio’s out-of-touch, anti-common sense positions could do serious damage to [the candidate] leading up to Election Day,” noted PPP, a liberal-leaning organization.

This comes just two months after gunman Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured another 53 at a gay nightclub in Orlando, in what has been labeled the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The PPP survey suggests the shooting could have an impact on Florida voters in November.

“The way we’re talking about this issue resonates with voters,” said Peter Ambler, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions, a gun control organization founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived a 2011 mass shooting.

“One thing we know, which is exciting, is that gun violence prevention is at the top of people’s minds,” Ambler added.

The poll also found that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonConservatives pound BuzzFeed, media over Cohen report BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president Trump knocks BuzzFeed over Cohen report, points to Russia dossier MORE, who has been vocal in her support for gun control measures, holds a 46 percent to 43 percent lead over Republican presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Shutdown negotiations continue after White House immigration proposal Rove warns Senate GOP: Don't put only focus on base Ann Coulter blasts Trump shutdown compromise: ‘We voted for Trump and got Jeb!’ MORE in Florida.

The gun control results are more visible in New Hampshire, where Clinton has opened up a 13-point lead over Trump.

In New Hampshire, two out of three voters say they are more inclined to vote for politicians who support expanded background checks, according to PPP. While nearly half say they could see themselves voting against a candidate they otherwise like because of their disagreement with them over guns.

This could trickle down to the Senate race, where Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) currently holds a 47 percent to 42 percent lead over incumbent Sen. Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteFive possible successors to Mattis Mattis resigns, says views aren't in line with Trump's Election Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms MORE (R).

PPP suggests Hassan’s lead could grow, as nearly six out of 10 voters aren’t familiar with Ayotte’s mixed record on guns.

PPP surveyed 938 registered Florida voters from Aug. 5-7 and the poll has a 3.2 percentage point margin of error. The organization surveyed 802 registered New Hampshire voters during that same period with a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.