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New Everytown Commissioned PPP Poll Shows How It Matters How You Ask The Question

Bloomberg’s mouthpiece is touting a new PPP poll they commissioned that they claim shows clear support for banning private transfers of firearms, but in actuality shows very strong support for the Brady Bill, which already passed in 1994.

Q1  Do you support or oppose requiring a criminal background check of every person who wants to buy a firearm?

Support a criminal background check for
everyone who wants to buy a firearm …………. 83%

Oppose a criminal background check for
everyone who wants to buy a firearm …………. 14%

Notsure……………………………………………………. 3%

It makes you question why they are framing the question this way. Why not ask the question this way? “Do you support or oppose requiring all transfers of firearms between individuals to be processed by federally licensed gun shops who conduct background checks?” How much does the support fall off if you do that? How many people took that question to mean support for background checks at point of sale?

The biggest problem for NRA in all of this is probably this:

Q12 Do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or strongly disagree with the following statement: The NRA used to be an organization dedicated to gun safety, but it’s been overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission.
Strongly agree ………………………………………… 45%
Somewhat agree……………………………………… 14%
Somewhat disagree …………………………………. 13%
Strongly disagree……………………………………..19%
Notsure…………………………………………………… 9%

But then you have 51% of gun owners saying NRA represents their interests, which makes you ponder whether they misunderstood the question.

Q10 In your view, does the NRA represent your interests as a gun owner, or not?
NRA represents your interests as a gun
owner …………………………………………………….. 51%
NRA does not represent your interests as a
gun owner ………………………………………………. 37%
Not sure …………………………………………………. 12%

Polling is essentially trickery, because how you ask the question can skew the results incredibly. How many people on the Constitutional Carry questions were thinking removing the permit requirement would mean no more carry? The domestic abusers and stalker numbers don’t surprise me. No one wants to be seen, even by a pollster, or standing up for domestic abusers and/or stalkers.

One thing to also keep in mind with polls like this is that they will greatly overstate NRA membership, because they identify NRA members by asking if the person is an NRA members. About 33 million Americans will self-identify as NRA members even if they haven’t actually been dues-paying members for years. That’s about 1/3rd the number of gun owners in this country. So when 55% of the people in this poll say NRA represents their position on background checks, that’s about 15.4 million Americans who say they are NRA members, but actually are not. Just to put that in perspective, Obama’s margin in 2012 was 3.5 million, and in 2009 was 9.5 million.

10 Responses to “New Everytown Commissioned PPP Poll Shows How It Matters How You Ask The Question”

  1. Whetherman says:

    More fundamentally, who are the morons who participate in polls? This past year my phone has been ringing off the hook with 800 numbers, but since I have caller ID, I don’t answer numbers I don’t recognize. There is a good chance some of those were polls. Plus, I am not inclined to answer questions from strangers just because they call me up and ask them, even if I might enjoy feeling like I “really told them,” afterward.

    So, what are the mental processes of people who do answer polls? Is that entered into the assessments of what constitutes a “scientific poll?”

    • Sebastian says:

      That’s been floated as a theory for why polling these days doesn’t seem to reflect reality. I cut my land line several years ago because no one ever called it who I wanted to talk to.

      • Matt says:

        My landline exists for family contacts and local calls only. I have a permanent Do-Not-Disturb set to stop the incessant scammer calls that occur at all hours and only let through the numbers I recognize.

        I only get polling calls on wireless numbers. Which then gets me incensed on violating the DNC list.

        • Sigivald says:

          Pollers are exempt from the DNC list – it only applies to commercial communications.

          • Shrimp says:

            It also only applies to those who play by the rules and use their legitimate number as their caller ID. For those who ‘spoof’ another person’s number, there is no penalty, because there’s no way to catch/punish them. Those who ignore the law are free to do as they wish, as long as they do it in a way that doesn’t lead to their identity.

            There’s a corollary to guns in there somewhere, I’m sure of it.

  2. Bill From Over The Hil says:

    How many anti-gunners identify as NRA members for polling purposes?

  3. Alpheus says:

    Sure, for a statistician, these biases–who will or won’t take a survey, who can or cannot be contacted, whether the person tells the truth or not, whether the question encourages a certain answer over another–are bugaboos that need to me mitigated, if not removed altogether.

    But for someone with an agenda, these are features, rather than bugs, particularly if the poll is meant to influence opinion, rather than trying to figure out the truth.

    You can probably trust internal polling, because a politician wants to know what the people actually think, so special effort is put into such a poll to make sure it’s as accurate as possible. But polls released to the public, particularly by political parties, organizations like Everytown, and the media? It’s a bit more difficult to take such polls seriously…

    • Whetherman says:

      We from time to time have been guilty of the same things.

      I can remember many times over the years when our people crowed about “unscientific” polls where the pro-gun opinion came in with something like a 97 – 3 win. Of course that was just a measure of our networks for directing our friends to polls.

      Those did indicate something important, though. First, it indicated we did have efficient if informal communication networks. But also, such “unscientific” polls are measures of motivation; which side has the motivation not only to participate, ourselves, but to get our friends to participate. That the principle carries over to elections — themselves “unscientific polls” in their way — should be obvious.

      • Alpheus says:

        Undoubtedly true. It’s especially ironic when the poll is created as an attempt to show high support for the policy in question, and the policy gets trounced hard.

        One of the first things I remember learning in Statistics is why things like voluntary “mail this card in” polls and internet polls are completely useless. It is heavily skewed towards people who bother filling in the survey in question…

  4. Thirdpower says:

    A GSS survey from 2004 had 63% claim that they would support a handgun ban even if it were proven to increase violent crime.

    They mean nothing.

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