Public sentiment turns against the NRA

Public sentiment turns against the NRA

45% of Americans now have an unfavorable opinion of the NRA, up from 39% last week

American opinion about the National Rifle Association has taken a negative turn - and that change has taken place just in the last week. Ever since a Gallup Poll in 1989 found a majority of Americans expressed positive opinion about the organization, American opinion has been either favorable or closely divided about the NRA, with only occasional exceptions. 

For the first time in Economist/YouGov poll history, significantly more Americans express a negative opinion of the National Rifle Association than a positive one. Even after the mass shooting in Las Vegas last fall, overall opinion remained narrowly positive. Immediately after the 2012 shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, opinion was divided. 

Overall, positive sentiments remain at the same level as a week ago, immediately after the school shootings in Parkland, Florida. They are not much lower than they were after the shootings in Las Vegas and Newtown. But unfavorable opinion has jumped. Much of that change has come from political independents. Last week, independents were divided 34% favorable towards the NRA and 32% unfavorable. This week, independents clearly are negative: 41% view the NRA unfavorably, while just 30% are favorable.

The change has occurred among non-gun owners. Two out of three gun owners continue to view the NRA favorably. 

In the last week, multiple companies have ceased offering discounts to NRA members, and the poll suggests that they may have done so fearing those discounts could have a negative impact on their businesses. By more than two to one, Americans say companies that offer discounts to NRA members are, in fact, supporting the organization. 

Both Republicans and Democrats agree on this. But they disagree on how those discounts impact their own purchases – 35% of Republicans say they would be more likely to buy products or services from a company that offers NRA discounts, while 65% of Democrats would be less likely to make those purchases. Independents mostly say it wouldn't make a difference. 

Just over a third of gun owners say those discounts would make them more likely to purchase from companies offering NRA discounts. But 20% say they would make them less likely to buy. 22% of respondents in this poll say they personally own a gun, with Republicans and conservatives three times as likely as Democrats and liberals to say this.

A political endorsement from the NRA also appears to have a negative impact overall, but it clearly can be beneficial among Republicans. 43% of Republicans say they would be more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate who receives an endorsement from the National Rifle Association. 

An NRA endorsement also helps among gun owners, who are twice as likely to say an NRA endorsement would make them more likely to vote for a Congressional candidate than make them less likely to do that.

Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the NRA - and its most visible spokesperson - is not known to half of the public. 19% have a favorable opinion of him, while 30% are unfavorable. However, more than twice as many Republicans have a favorable opinion of LaPierre than view him negatively.

Read the latest topline and tables results here

Image: Getty