Is Clinton’s Gun Control Pitch Misfiring in New Hampshire?

There are many well-known reasons why Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is expected to prevail in Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary.

The socialist Vermont senator is from a neighboring state, and he’s believed to benefit from New Hampshire’s overwhelmingly white electorate. (Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton runs stronger with minority voters, who comprise a greater share of the population in places like South Carolina that vote in the coming weeks and months.)

Over the weekend, the Associated Press flagged another dynamic at play in the Granite State, and it’s more bad news for Clinton. The issue of gun control, on which the former secretary of state makes clear she’s to the left of Sanders, “doesn’t appear to be swaying voters as they consider who to vote for,” according to the news agency.

“David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center, points to a recent poll that shows Hillary Clinton’s positions on gun control more closely mirror those of Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire, yet she still trails Bernie Sanders in polls.”

Throughout the primary, Sanders has defended his mixed record on gun control, noting that he hails “from a state where tens and tens of thousands of people hunt and do target practice.” In occasionally tense exchanges with voters, he’s defended voting to shield gun manufacturers from lawsuits and called for “some give on both sides” of an enormously divisive cultural issue.

The senator’s approach seems better-aligned than Clinton’s with New Hampshire’s “live free or die” culture. It also fits the economics of the state, which has the most firearms industry jobs per capita. Maybe it’s not surprising that voters would be leery of Clinton, who endorsed a 25 percent national sales tax on guns in 1993.

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Author: Graham Vyse

Graham Vyse is a reporter for InsideSources. He was previously a staff writer for Washington, D.C.'s Current Newspapers, where he appeared on "The Fix’s 2015 list of best state political reporters" in the Washington Post. His work has also been published by the Post, Slate, and NBC News. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Graham received a master's degree in journalism and public affairs from American University in 2013. He was awarded a Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation in 2015.

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