Most Americans respond positively to the stricter gun control measures Barack Obama proposed last week in the wake of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn. - but by less of a margin than such measures receive outside the context of partisan politics.
Fifty-three percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll view Obama's gun control plan favorably, 41 percent unfavorably. Strong proponents outnumber strong opponents by 38 vs. 31 percent in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.
Obama urged measures including background checks on all guns sales, reinstating the assault weapons ban, banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and armor-piercing bullets, new gun trafficking laws and increased access to mental health treatment.
Support for the package is lower than it was for some of the same steps tested individually in an ABC/Post poll earlier this month. Majorities from 88 to 65 percent favored background checks at gun shows and on ammunition purchases, creating a federal database to track gun sales and banning high-capacity magazines. That included, in each case, majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike.
In this poll, asking about "Barack Obama's proposals for stricter gun control," partisan allegiances kick in. The president's proposals are seen favorably by 76 percent of Democrats but unfavorably by 72 percent of Republicans; most on each side feel strongly about their respective positions. Independents split 51-44 percent, favorable-unfavorable.
What remains to be seen is whether the president can overcome those partisan predispositions in his efforts to encourage Congress to pass the legislation he seeks.
Among other groups, Obama's proposals are viewed positively by 56 percent of women vs. 49 percent of men; 58 percent of seniors vs. 47 percent of young adults; 66 percent in the Northeast vs. 50 percent in the rest of the country; 72 percent of nonwhites vs. 43 percent of whites; and 73 percent of liberals vs. 36 percent of conservatives.
The survey was done by landline and cellular telephone Jan. 16-20 among a random national sample of 1,033 adults, and the results have a 3.5 point-error margin.