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Poll: Gun Rights Initiative Losing Support While Background Check Remains Popular

Elaine Thompson
AP Photo
FILE - Supporters Zach Silk, left, and Cheryl Stumbo deliver boxes of petitions for Initiative 594 to the Secretary of State's office Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Olympia, Washington.

Support for a gun rights measure on Washington’s fall ballot is flagging, according to a new Elway poll released Tuesday. Meanwhile, a dueling measure that would expand background checks remains popular.

This poll represents a major shift since April — a nine-point drop in support for Initiative 591, which says Washington can’t adopt a stricter gun background check than the feds.

At the same time, Initiative 594 continues to enjoy a 70-percent approval rating. This measure would expand background checks to include person-to-person gun sales in Washington.

Longtime pollster Stuart Elway thinks the numbers show voters are figuring out what each measure would actually do.

“What it looks, to me, like is people are now voting more in accordance with their intention, which is to implement more extensive background checks,” Elway said.

Elway feels confident saying as much, because his polling has generally found Washington voters favor more extensive background checks by a margin of 2 to 1. That said, Elway notes the gun control issue still splits sharply along partisan lines.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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