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New Everytown-Schoen Consulting Poll Reveals Gun Safety Was Number One Issue in Virginia’s Election With Gun Issue Voters Supporting Democratic Candidates by More Than Two-to-one Margin

On Tuesday, Virginia Voters Flipped Control of General Assembly to a Gun Safety Majority for First Time in 25 Years, Months after Legislative Republicans Refused to Vote on Gun Violence Prevention in a Special Session Called after the Virginia Beach Mass Shooting

NEW YORK — Today, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Schoen Consulting unveiled a new poll of Virginia’s most competitive swing legislative districts revealing that gun safety was the number one issue driving voters to the polls. What’s more, the poll found that, among voters who ranked gun issues as their most important issue, they supported Democratic candidates by a two-to-one margin. 

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund spent $2.5 million in Virginia’s 2019 elections, spending across 22 of the most competitive Senate and House districts in Virginia. In all, 16 Everytown-endorsed candidates won their races on Tuesday.

“These results should strike fear into the hearts of any candidate up and down the ballot who has not stood on the side of gun safety — including President Trump,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Gun safety was the top issue in Virginia this year, and it will be a leading issue in 2020.”

The poll (read here) conducted by Schoen Consulting interviewed 600 randomly sampled swing-district voters in 22 Virginia state House and state Senate Districts who voted in Tuesday’s Virginia General Assembly election. Surveys were conducted November 5-6, 2019, after polls closed.

Key poll findings include:

  • Gun safety played a dominant role in the election, and a plurality of voters (28 percent) said that a candidate’s positions on gun issues was the most important issue to their vote, ahead of issues like health care and the economy. And a full 83 percent of voters said it was an important issue to them.
  • Gun issues clearly benefited the Democrats in Virginia, as Democratic candidates won gun issue voters by 66 percent to 32 percent, thus closing — and flipping — the so-called enthusiasm gap around gun issues.
  • The poll found that gun issues and candidates’ positions on guns has become even more important to voters since 2017, when Schoen Consulting also polled in Virginia immediately after the gubernatorial election. A candidate’s positions on gun issues ranked first in this poll, with 28 percent ranking it as the single top issue, whereas it placed third in 2017, with 19 percent ranking it as the top issue, behind jobs and the economy and health care.
  • Voters who saw TV ads on candidates’ gun positions voted Democrat by 55 percent to 43 percent, and those who said media on candidates’ gun positions was important in determining which candidate to support voted for Democratic candidates by 56 percent to 43 percent.
  • Anti-Republican gun safety messages were far more compelling to voters than negative messages attacking Republicans for their ties to Trump and their positions on health care.

Everytown’s $2.5 million investment in Virginia’s elections included (more details here).

  • Endorsing 25 candidates across Virginia
  • $750,000 in digital ads highlighting Virginia Republican candidates’ opposition to gun safety
  • $620,000 in direct mail highlighting Virginia Republican candidates’ opposition to gun safety
  • $330,000 to support candidate TV ads advocating for gun safety, including: $75,000 to John Bell’s campaign in Virginia’s 13th Senate District
  • $538,000 in direct contributions, including: $175,000 to the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus, $150,000 to the Virginia House Democratic Caucus, $100,000 to Democratic Party of Virginia’s Coordinated Campaign and $113,000 to Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund endorsed candidates
  • $250,000 in district by district polling and battleground message testing