Nearly three-fifths of likely voters support gun rights amendment, poll finds

By: - October 28, 2022 5:38 pm

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has passed new legislation that would ban certain semi-automatic weapons. (Photo by Alex Wong, Getty Images)

More than half of likely voters said they planned to support the gun rights constitutional amendment on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election, according to the most recent Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll.

The majority, 58%, of likely Iowa voters said they plan to vote in favor of the proposed amendment, which would subject laws restricting firearms to higher legal scrutiny, while 37% said they plan to vote against it.

Poll respondents were read the language of the proposed amendment: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The sovereign state of Iowa affirms and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right. Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

The vote will be the final step in a years-long process, with Republicans passing the draft amendment through the state Legislature multiple times. A simple majority of general-election voters is required to amend the state constitution.

Supporters of the amendment say the enshrinement of protections for gun ownership and use through the “Keep and Bear Arms Amendment,” will prevent the federal government and courts from limiting gun rights.

But the coalition Iowans for Responsible Gun Laws has spent the past few months campaigning against the amendment, which they argue would prevent the state government from implementing measures to prevent mass shootings or protect victims of domestic violence.

Republicans overwhelmingly supported the amendment, with 86% of likely voters planning to vote yes, while just 18% of Democrats responded they would vote for the measure, according to the poll. A majority of independents, 61%, also responded they would vote in favor of it.

The poll was conducted by Selzer & Co. from Oct. 9 through 12, surveying 804 Iowans, 620 of whom were likely voters. Poll results for the full sample have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Other poll takeaways

Attorney general race: The October Iowa Poll also found almost half — 49% — of likely voters said they would vote for incumbent state Attorney General Tom Miller in the upcoming election, while 33% said they would support Republican challenger Brenna Bird.

Miller, the longest serving attorney general in the country, is facing a higher-profile race in 2022 than he has in past election cycles, as state and national Republicans see a chance to flip the seat. Bird reported raising more than $2.3 million in the most recent reporting period, according to state campaign finance reports. Miller raised more than $1 million, with both candidates receiving sizable donations from their respective party attorneys general associations.

The Iowa Poll did not report on the two other statewide races where Democratic incumbents, Auditor Rob Sand and Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald, seek reelection. Campaign finance reports show Republican investment Iowa Sen. Roby Smith’s campaign to unseat Fitzgerald as state treasurer, with Smith raising more than $86,000 in the most recent quarter, while Fitzgerald raised less than $5,000.

There’s less investment in the race against Sand, where Republican Todd Halbur ended the period with less than $4,000 in the bank, while the Democratic incumbent reported $618,000 cash on hand.

Gubernatorial: Republicans maintained a lead in the Iowa Poll results for other races. In the gubernatorial race, Gov. Kim Reynolds held a 17-point lead over Democrat Deidre DeJear.

U.S. Senate: Longtime U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley also held a 3-point lead over former Navy Adm. Mike Franken. But the race is more competitive than some election forecasters initially predicted: the poll put Franken’s support from likely voters within the margin of error of Grassley. Forecasters like Sabato’s Crystal Ball and Cook Political Report have downgraded Iowa’s U.S. Senate seat from a “safe” to a “likely” Republican win.

Iowa caucuses: Looking ahead to 2024, most Iowans still say they want Iowa to remain first in the nation for the presidential nominating process, but more are saying another state should go first. In the October poll, 26% said it would be best if some other state or states go first in the upcoming cycle. That’s which is double the 13% who said in February 2015 that another state should get a chance. Still, 53% of Iowans said in the new poll it would be best for the country if Iowa remains first.

The question comes as the Democratic National Committee considers changing up the line-up of early states for the next presidential nominating cycle. The DNC decided to delay its final decision granting states waivers to hold early contests until after the November election.

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.