Politicians are Inundating Americans With Gun-Related Ads

Americans are focused on gun violence and politicians are taking note.

A string of school shootings and high levels of gun-related violence have convinced Americans that gun control is one of the biggest challenges currently facing the country.

The push for stricter gun control legislation has become a central theme of American life in 2018. After last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the school’s students have stepped up, taken control of the narrative, and demanded that the adults and elected officials responsible for their safety start taking action. Their efforts will culminate this weekend with more than 830 March for Our Lives events taking place around the world. The centerpiece event, Saturday’s march in Washington, D.C., is expected to draw up to 500,000 participants.

Against this backdrop, Kantar wanted to assess how Americans view gun control within a broader set of challenges facing the country. We also wanted to know how politicians are responding by examining how much money is flowing into political advertising around the issue in races around the country.

A survey of 1,018 Americans fielded via Lightspeed’s LifePoints mobile app conducted this week showed that gun control is considered the biggest challenge facing the country today. National security and healthcare rounded out the top three areas of concern among all respondents.

When we filtered the data to look at respondents under the age of 30 there was a marked shift. While gun control remained the top challenge, younger respondents viewed crime and education as greater challenges over national security and healthcare. Men under 30, in particular, have considerable concerns about the education system, while women are more focused on gun control and crime.

Political Advertising

The intense public focus on gun control is having a direct impact on the amount of money politicians from both parties are devoting to the issue. Not surprisingly, Democratic spending is outpacing Republican. According to Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), gun-related advertising has totaled nearly $9 million between Jan. 1 and March 21, flooding the airwaves with 13,511 spots. Democrats have accounted for more than $6 million of that spending, running more than 8,000 spots.

“At this point in the cycle, Democrats are attempting to take ownership of the gun debate,” said Madeline Meininger, an analyst with CMAG. “They are not only outspending Republicans on the issue, but mentioning it in a far greater share of their advertising. Guns are one of the top 10 issues for Democrats right now, while it’s maybe top 25 for Republicans.”

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