The killing of 49 people inside Orlando’s Pulse nightclub last month angered most of the American public but, a person’s political persuasion played a factor in where that anger was placed, a recent Penn State University poll shows.
Penn State released its “Mood of the National Poll” findings Wednesday. Researchers say the responses collected from 1,000 adults polled in the U.S. shows a deep divide in how Democrats, Independents and Republicans reacted to the Orlando shooting.
Democrats polled expressed anger over the attack more frequently than Republicans who were polled. Many Republicans polled said they were mad Democratic politicians re-upped calls for stricter gun control laws after the shooting.
27 percent of Republicans polled said the Orlando shooting angered them
The poll was conducted from June 15 and 22.
Although researchers didn’t ask specifically about the June 12 nightclub shooting, respondents were given an opportunity to answer open-ended questions about what current events and political news has made them angry, proud, hopeful, worried and ashamed.
The poll found that 42 percent of Democrats specifically mentioned the Orlando shooting as a recent event that angers them. Republican response was different, with 27 percent of those respondents bringing up Orlando.
Researchers at Penn State’s McCourtney Institute of Democracy say they weren’t surprised to see Orlando bubble up in the results, given the timing of when people were polled. But, the variation in comments from Democrats compared to Republicans might surprise some.
The results reveal “that the fault lines in our political culture is manifest even in our in reactions to a tragic event,” said McCourtney Institute Director Michael Berkman. The differences among responses, he said, show how deep political barriers are in the nation.
For example, none of the Republicans polled expressed anger over current gun control laws while most Democrats said current laws are too lax and guns are too easily acquired. Many Democrats complained about the political lobbying strength of the National Rifle Association, while many Republicans griped about media coverage and said there was not enough emphasis on the gunman’s reported ties to terror groups.
Poll respondents were also divided in comments about the Orlando shooting victims and the network of people affected. The findings show broader recognition of Pulse as a gay nightclub from Democrats and Independents, with many of those respondents saying they were proud of the outpouring of support for the LGBT community.
A small group of people polled expressed anger over the death of a 2-year-old, killed by an alligator at a Disney resort in June.
Republicans, on the other hand, more often expressed pride and positive emotions focused on individual acts of bravery and generosity associated with the shooting. Many Republican respondents specifically mentioned first responders on scene, and businesses and churches that donated supplies and food and held blood drives afterward.
Penn State’s open-ended questionnaire to those polled is the first of its kind from campus researchers.
Traditional polling, Berkman said, tends to focus on the political “horse race” – which candidate is leading or who is behind – and often requires respondents to categorize themselves on policy issues they may be unfamiliar or uninterested in. The new style, he said, aims to amplify “the voice of the people.”
The Penn State pollsters say a small number of people who didn’t mention the Orlando attack said they were angry and upset generally by the 2016 presidential campaign and individual candidates. Another small group of people expressed anger over the death of 2-year-old Lane Graves who was killed by an alligator at a Disney resort in June.