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Polling & Results

With Washington ready for a ballot initiative fight this November and the accompanying debate over who is and isn’t showing up, I thought it would be important to look at a couple of historical votes relevant to the subject of ballot initiatives.

One is recent history. Very recent. As in, yesterday. There were were many polls showing that the Yes and No votes on Scottish Independence were in a dead heat, and even some showing that Yes was taking the lead in the days prior to the vote. The real result was a 10 point vote against independence with massive turnout.

Another, more relevant example, is from Massachusetts in 1976. I’ve posted about how important it is for gun owners to read about and learn from this example before. It shows why we keep fighting, even in sometimes clearly uphill fights. From Dave Kopel’s article on the ballot initiative fight:

Early polling suggested that a handgun ban would pass handily. Further, in the 1974 election, voters in several state legislative districts had overwhelmingly supported measures instructing their state legislators to vote for strict anti-gun legislation. …

The final poll, a few days before, had showed Question 5 with a 10-point lead. Everyone anticipated a long night waiting for the election results. Everyone was wrong.

Handgun confiscation was crushed by a vote of 69 percent to 31 percent. Of the approximately 500 towns in Massachusetts, only about a dozen (including Cambridge, Brookline, Newton and Amherst) voted for the ban. Even Boston rejected the ban by a wide margin.

There are notable differences in that it was certainly a far more extreme policy than Washington. However, it still shows that what people feel they “should” tell a pollster may not match how they vote in a closed voting booth. That’s the kind of tendency that Washington activists need to appeal to there.

Now, NRA cannot, even if they empty their entire campaign war chest into Washington State and completely ignore the rest of the country, outspend Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They can’t. Just accept it right now that you cannot look at this situation strictly through the lens of campaign finance reports. I’m not in Washington, but I do see some evidence of NRA work. There’s a Facebook page they’ve created that partially documents some of their work, and I can also say that from the moment I met our new EVC coordinator back in March, she’s been aware of this and trying to work with local activists to make sure they have what they need and help them out. Even in our Friends of NRA program that isn’t political, we saw record turnout for people showing up to participate, even though they couldn’t quite open their wallets as much as last year. Fights like this aren’t accurately portrayed in financial reports.

These issues are complex, and there’s a chance that we may lose. However, if gun owners study their history on ballot initiatives, they’ll know these things are won with volunteers on the ground and that sometimes polls on policy efforts to support more gun control are very, very wrong when you actually stick a ballot with that issue in front of someone’s face.

4 Responses to “Polling & Results”

  1. Ken says:

    It’s also hard to buy the assertion that the NRA isn’t doing anything about the Washington ballot initiatives when it was the cover story on America’s First Freedom this month.

  2. Echo says:

    I’m looking for a way to get involved locally, but I’m just not seeing much going on.

    • Bitter says:

      There isn’t information in any gun store or at any gun range at all? Check out the NRA FB page I linked to at least see what public events they have coming up, and you can connect with whoever is running the table to see what opportunities they know about.

  3. RAH says:

    Throwing money is not the answer . The NRA can not compete against billionaires but gun owners can do the grassroots. It after all their responsibility if they want to keep their freedoms. The GOA likes to trash the NRA since they compete for the same people . Both do good work.
    Locals need to do the footwork and organize. That is what really counts ,not TV ads

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