Americans overwhelmingly describe the tone of political discourse in the country as negative, verging on angry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, but more than half say that the culture did not contribute to the shootings in Tucson that killed six people dead and wounded 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).Evaluations of President Obama's handling of the Jan. 8 tragedy are highly positive across the political spectrum, with nearly eight in 10 giving him high marks for his response to the incident. Even 71 percent of Republicans say they approve of his leadership following the shootings.After calls from political leaders in both major parties to temper the rhetoric following the massacre, Americans are optimistic that Obama and Republicans in Congress will be able to work together this year on important issues. In the poll, 55 percent said they are optimistic that the two sides will do so, up seven percentage points from an ABC News-Yahoo! News survey taken just before the shootings.Like similar violent events in the past, the Arizona tragedy did not generate greater support for tougher gun-control measures in general. But a majority in the new poll - 57 percent - said they support a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazine clips of the type used by the shooter in Tucson.Overall, 52 percent favor stricter gun-control laws, little changed over the past few years and down from where it was after the shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007. Support for new restrictions on the sale of semiautomatic handguns is also down from what it was following the Virginia Tech incident.
Monday, January 17, 2011
From Dan Balz and Jon Cohen of The Washington Post on Jan. 17: