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Fox News poll: During a manhunt, 69 percent of voters want a gun

On Friday, the nation watched as the Boston area went under lockdown during a manhunt for the armed and dangerous marathon bombing suspect.  If you were in that situation, would you want a gun at your side?

Most American voters say yes, according to a new Fox News poll.

Sixty-nine percent say if they were in a situation similar to Bostonians, they would want a gun in their house.  

That includes a large 88-percent majority of those in gun-owner households, as well as 50 percent of those in non-gun homes.

President Obama and lawmakers in Washington have been working on gun-control proposals since the December school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

When an expansion of background checks for guns failed to pass the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, the president urged his supporters to vote background-check opponents out of office.  

The new poll, released Tuesday, finds voters may heed the president’s call.

Some 61 percent say they would be less likely to support a candidate who voted against expanding background checks.  That’s far greater than the 23 percent who are more likely to support such a candidate.

And, conversely, backing the measure could help a candidate:  68 percent say they are more likely to support a candidate who voted in favor of expanding background checks.  

Even 60 percent of those living in a gun-owner household say they are more likely to support a candidate who voted for expanded background checks.

Approval of Congress remains low, yet it is up a bit this month:  17 percent approve, up from 14 percent last month and 12 percent a year ago.  A sizable 74-percent majority of voters disapproves of job Congress is doing.

In general, more voters think protecting the constitutional right to own a gun is a higher priority than protecting citizens from gun violence (53-42 percent).  That’s mostly unchanged since January, when it was 51-40 percent.

Even so, fully 82 percent of voters favor expanding background checks.  Almost all non-gun owner households favor doing so (89 percent), and it’s even the consensus among those in gun-owning households (77 percent).

Almost all Democrats (89 percent) support an expansion of checks for guns, as do most independents (84 percent) and Republicans (72 percent).

One of the authors of the failed background-check legislation, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, places much of the blame on the National Rifle Association.

And the NRA’s favorable rating has dropped: 50 percent of voters have a positive opinion now, down from 56 percent in January.  Still, it has a higher rating than either the Democratic (44 percent) or the Republican (35 percent) Party.  

Sixty-seven percent in gun-owning households view the NRA positively.  That drops to 31 percent among non-gun households.

Nearly half of voters -- 48 percent -- say someone in their household owns a gun.  

The NRA’s 50 percent favorable rating makes it almost as popular as Barack Obama -- 52 percent of voters have a positive view of him.

President Obama’s job performance rating on gun control is one of his worst:  39 percent approve, while 56 percent disapprove.  The only issue where he receives lower ratings is on the federal budget deficit (33 percent approve and 61 percent disapprove).

More than three times as many people think working on the deficit (17 percent) is the top priority facing the nation than think gun control is (5 percent).  

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,009 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from April 20 to April 22.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.