Toomey's rating isn't exactly stellar—48 percent approve and 30 percent disapprove—but it's still better than his 43-32 rating last month. Overall, 54 percent said they would look more favorably on a politician who supported background checks for online and gun show firearm purchases compared with 12 percent who said they would be less favorable. Even 40 percent of Republicans said they would be more favorable, compared with just 19 percent saying less.
But while Pat Toomey strengthened his position after supporting background checks, take a look at what happend to Sen. Kelly Ayotte after she opposed them: Her approval rating dropped 15 points and 50 percent of New Hampshire voters said her vote would make them less likely to support her in the future, compared with just 23 percent who said it would make them more likely.
Poll after poll is making it clear that supporting gun safety legislation is a political winner. Given those numbers, senators who are talking about watering down gun safety legislation even further in order to get something passed are making a fundamental miscalculation. The thing that will bring senators like Kelly Ayotte or Heidi Heitkamp to the table on gun safety isn't the opportunity to pass weaker legislation: It's the opportunity to unscrew themselves from having taken a politically unpopular vote.
The Ayottes and Heitkmaps of the world aren't looking for a chance to pass a weaker version of legislation that they've already killed—they're looking for the political equivalent of a get out of jail free card. And in terms of raw power, that means if there are any concessions to be made, they are the ones who should be making them.