After Working On Gun Safety Bill, John Cornyn’s Approval Rating Drops
Texas’ top Republican in the U.S. Senate, John Cornyn, has for most of his two decades in office fared relatively unscathed in his re-election campaigns and political polls. But his popularity with Republicans and Independents seems to take a hit recently after his efforts to advance a congressional gun safety bill that President Joe Biden signed into law late last month.
The measurement is a fairly modest set of gun safety initiatives that increase funding for mental health care and create policies about who is allowed to have a gun after domestic violence. Cornyn played a major role in a bipartisan push by a group of senators to pass the bill.
Dan Solomon of Texas Monthly joins Texas Standard to share more. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.
This transcript has been slightly edited for clarity:
Texas Standard: OOf course, it’s one thing if we start to see a drop in the number of Republicans who want to support John Cornyn, because gun rights are an issue, obviously that’s close to a lot of conservatives. And the independents? This struck me as a bit surprising, at least from what you report.
Dan Solomon: So I don’t know if there’s a direct one-to-one correlation between the gun bill and the lack of support for Cornyn. You know, it’s hard to analyze exactly what drives anyone’s numbers in a poll, but it’s what brought Cornyn into the national spotlight, which is a place that – despite being the whip of the a minority in the House, he’s a senior Republican Party executive — he’s also kind of an anonymous figure in some ways.
It’s not Ted Cruz. He’s not someone who’s flashy, makes big statements or grabs the headlines. So I think it’s possible that part of the response to Cornyn, part of the drop in the polls, is simply because he’s been more visible and people know him better. And they might not like what they see for reasons that go beyond the gun bill.
Many people thought the action taken by the Senate on the gun safety measure was quite small compared to what many people were asking for, especially Democrats calling for legislation to try to reduce gun violence in schools. . Is there anything about this bill that would stand out as something that would particularly upset Republicans?
It’s more about signage and the kind of general culture war stuff that has overwhelmed our politics. So I think for Cornyn, it’s not so much that he passed a specific bill that people are crazy about or that there are specific measures in that bill that kept him away from independents, it’s rather that he’s pursuing this – which is a subject that’s been banned for decades – this is the first nationwide gun legislation in a very long time. Even if it is very modest, it is still the first.
So I think there’s just kind of a feeling like, well, maybe he’s not on our side; maybe he’s not our guy; he’s not fighting the battles we want him to fight — for Republicans. And independents are a little harder to analyze, although, you know, guns are also important to a number of independents in Texas.
How important is that in the grand scheme of Cornyn’s career? You write that he is not re-eligible before 2026. He will then be 74 years old; some people consider this a good age for retirement. Who knows where Cornyn is going to be?
Yeah, I think trying to predict what the political landscape will look like four years from now, I can’t do that. But I would expect that this particular problem is not what torpedoes John Cornyn’s career. You know, if this is really driven by the gun bill, the gun bill will be long forgotten by 2026. But what does that actually mean for Cornyn, who knows ? It could be a good year for Republicans. It could be a bad year for Republicans.