Gun Ownership Punctuates American Political Polarity

America is undisputedly polarized and nothing reflects that polarization as much voting by gun owners and non-gun owners, based on SurveyMonkey research from the 2016 presidential election.

America is undisputedly polarized and nothing reflects that polarization as much voting by gun owners and non-gun owners, based on SurveyMonkey research from the 2016 presidential election.

There is no dispute that Americans are polarized, and no issue depicts the deep divide in America than gun ownership.

SurveyMonkey has published side-by-side maps based on 2016 presidential exit polls that show gun owners predominantly voted for Donald Trump and non-gun owners predominantly voted for Hillary Clinton. The only two exceptions were in West Virginia where non-gun owners voted for Trump and in Vermont where gun owners voted for Clinton. 

“No other demographic characteristic created such a consistent geographic split,” according to New York Times reporters Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy. “Overall, gun-owning households (roughly a third in America) backed Trump by 63 percent to 31 percent, while households without guns backed Clinton, 65 percent to 30 percent.”

The nearly all-blue and nearly all-red maps depict an electoral vote outcome by state based on gun ownership voting. It is a startling polemic, which helps explain political inertia on addressing gun violence.

The SurveyMonkey data point about gun ownership, which was posted originally in October 2017, resurfaced last week as political leaders struggled to “do something” in response to the twin mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. Something as basic as universal background checks for gun purchases remains an elusive proposition, let alone more aggressive actions such as an assault weapon ban.

SurveyMonkey examined other “divides,” but none were as clear-cut as gun ownership. The closest was the racial divide. For example, Clinton only won a majority of white voters in New England and the West Coast. A majority of non-white voters only backed Trump in Iowa, Oklahoma and Alaska. 

Working-class whites voted predominantly for Trump, except in Washington and Massachusetts. “Everyone else but working-class whites” tended to vote for Clinton, except in states such as West Virginia, the Dakotas and Utah.

The urban-rural divide is real, with Trump carrying most rural areas and Clinton dominating in urban centers. How this divide affects the electoral outcome of state depends on how big the urban centers are compared to rural areas. 

Married and unmarried voters have a definite split, with unmarrieds trending toward Clinton and marrieds toward Trump. Yet, still not as definitive as gun ownership.

The same goes for religious divisions that reflect sharp divisions as Protestant and Catholic voters leaned toward Trump, while atheists and non-church-goers leaned toward Clinton. 

Union membership, once thought to be an unbreakable political alliance with Democrats, has become more of mixed bag. A majority of households with a union member voted for Trump in several states including Iowa, Indiana and West Virginia.