How Will the Orlando Attack Impact the 2016 Presidential Election?

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Donald Trump on June 11 (Getty)

The tragedy at the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida made the divisions between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump more clear as the two get their general election campaigns in order. There are several issues at the center of the shooting, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history with 50 dead and 53 injured. It doesn’t just raise questions about gun control, but also about ISIS’ ability to influence American citizens at home.

Trump’s Response

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Donald Trump in Pennsylvania on June 11. (Getty)

After tragedies in the past, Trump has seen his poll numbers rise during the Republican primaries. For example, a Monmouth University poll taken in the days after the San Bernardino shooting, Trump had a 27-point lead over Ted Cruz. Trump also called for a temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S. after the attack there. Trump also said more guns at the scene would have helped lower the number of victims.

This morning, Trump said the same thing about Orlando, suggesting that if those at the club had guns, they could have stopped gunman Omar Mateen. Trump also stood by his idea to ban Muslims after the Orlando shooting. He said this would have stopped incidents like this one, but Mateen was born in the U.S. and a citizen.

Trump also earned poll boosts after attacks outside the U.S., like Brussels and Paris.

Clinton’s Response

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Hillary Clinton on June 10. (Getty)

On the other hand, Clinton said that this was more evidence that assault weapons need to be banned. Police said that Mateen was using an AR-15 assault rifle, which he bought legally even though he was investigated by the FBI, notes Wall Street Journal. “This is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and it reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets,” Clinton said in a statement.

Clinton visited San Bernardino just last week, where she promised “common-sense gun safety reform,” reports The Desert Sun.

“You here in this beautiful city know the horrors and the losses associated with gun violence are just unimaginable,” Clinton said in San Bernardino. “Thirty-three thousand people a year are killed by guns. We can do better than this, and we can do it consistent with the constitution.”

Clinton did not use “radical Islam” as Trump wanted, but she did call it an “act of terror.”

“This was an act of terror,” she wrote. “Law enforcement and intelligence agencies are hard at work, and we will learn more in the hours and days ahead. For now, we can say for certain that we need to redouble our efforts to defend our country from threats at home and abroad. That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home. It also means refusing to be intimidated and staying true to our values.”

Clinton also increased her lead over Bernie Sanders in polls after San Bernardino. A Monmouth poll showed Clinton with a 33 percent lead over Sanders after that tragedy.

The General Election

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Hillary Clinton on June 10

In the days since Clinton won the Democratic nomination, the race seemed to be settling, with Clinton taking a slight lead over Trump. A Fox News poll released on June 9 had Clinton up three pints over Trump (42-39 percent), which is within the margin of error.

With six months left before the general election, it will be interesting to see how the tragedy in Orlando changes the race and what the first poll after Sunday will look like. Trump has already swung at Clinton, calling on her to drop out of the race for not using the words “radical Islam.” Trump will give a speech today and Clinton is holding a rally in Cleveland.

President Barack Obama was supposed to make his first appearance on the campaign trail with Clinton since endorsing Clinton, but that appearance was cancelled in the wake of Orlando.

The First Poll

The first poll since the shooting, done by Reuters/Ipsos, was taken from Friday to Tuesday, so some of those polled responded before it. The poll has Clinton with an 11.6 percent lead over Trump, which was just 1.4 percent less than the previous Reuters/Ipsos poll.

June 29 Quinnipiac University Poll

A new poll released by Quinnipiac University on June 29 shows the race too close to call, with Clinton leading 42-40.

However, other polls since Orlando have shows a widening lead for Clinton. A poll by ABC News and the Washington Post, released on June 26, shows Clinton ahead of Trump 51-36. The same poll found that 64 percent of respondents do not think Trump is qualified to be president.