Semiotic Weapons

If only gun owners had voted in the 2016 election, then Donald Trump would have won every single state save Vermont. If only people who don’t own guns had voted, then Hillary Clinton would have won every state, save West Virginia and maybe Wyoming.

SurveyMonkey, which conducted the poll reaching these conclusions, found that the voting divide between gun owners and non-owners was starker than divides between white and nonwhite Americans, between working-class whites and the rest of the nation, and between rural and urban voters. “No other demographic characteristic created such a consistent geographic split,” the New York Times’s Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy write.

That doesn’t mean that gun ownership is more important in explaining American political behavior than race or class or gender. But it does mean that gun ownership has an extremely strong correlation with conservative, pro-Republican voting.

Not owning a gun isn’t a particularly powerful identity. But gun ownership is, enough so to drive the gap seen in the map above.

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