A new poll released by Gallup today shows that the National Rifle Association, or NRA, is more popular than Hillary Clinton or President Barack Obama.
According to the poll, 58 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the gun rights organization, while only 35 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the group.
In contrast, Obama’s most recent presidential approval rating is 46 percent. A majority of Americans, 50 percent, disapproves of the job he’s doing as president. A NBC/WSJ poll released earlier this week shows similar numbers for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. That poll found that 39 percent of voters have a positive view of Clinton, while 48 percent view her negatively.
The continued vilification of the NRA by Democratic politicians seems to have had little impact on the gun group’s reputation, as the public’s opinion of the NRA remains relatively unchanged over the past decade. In 2005, Gallup found that 60 percent of the public had a favorable view of the NRA:
In a year plagued with mass shootings, including a recent tragedy at a community college in Oregon, there has been a national debate as to whether the NRA, with its ardent support for gun rights, is somehow complicit in these shootings. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has blamed the NRA for stifling the movement toward gun control. More broadly, some commentators in the news media and on social media have criticized the NRA for its theory that “a good guy with a gun” may stop “a bad guy with a gun” in mass shootings.
Yet in a Gallup poll from Oct. 7-11, a solid majority of Americans (58%) say they have an overall favorable impression of the NRA. This includes the highest recording of “very favorable” opinions (26%) since Gallup began asking this question in 1989. In December 2012, soon after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, 54% of Americans had a favorable impression of the NRA. The highest percentage in Gallup’s 26-year trend was in 2005, when 60% of Americans viewed the organization favorably.
The NRA enjoys majority support from both conservatives and moderates. Liberals are the only ideological group to have an unfavorable view of the organization. Even a plurality of non-gun owners has a positive opinion of the NRA. According to Gallup, 78 percent of gun owners have a positive opinion about the NRA. Among non-gun owners, 49 percent have a favorable view of the NRA, while 42 percent have an unfavorable opinion.
The oldest civil rights organization in America, the NRA was formed by former Union soldiers in New York in 1871 to help improve marksmanship among the general public. As it grew, the NRA set up local charters throughout the South in order to train African-Americans to better protect themselves from racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.