Not a month seems to go by where we don’t see some headline claiming that there’s massive support for gun control among the voters. Regardless of the proposal, it seems there’s an outsized positive response to even the most ludicrous policy proposals. It’s baffling in so many ways.
Now, I’ve argued that even if the polls were accurate, it doesn’t mean all that much since anti-gun voters are rarely driven to make choices based on that position. They’re far more likely to vote based on economics, foreign policy, and/or a dozen other policy positions before they consider guns…unless they’re pro-gun. Many, if not most, pro-gun folks use the Second Amendment as a driving issue for them. They’ll support the most pro-Second Amendment candidate out there. And none of that shows up in the polls.
However, someone who knows far more about polling than I do has another reason to dismiss the polls.
John McLaughlin, a trusted confidant of then-candidate Donald Trump three years ago, says left-wing bias and questionable methods are reflecting skewed polling results including a recent headline-grabbing poll that suggestes a majority of Americans want his client impeached.
According to McLaughlin, the recent Fox News poll that showed a majority of Americans favor impeachment was both sloppy and biased, because self-identified Democrats outnumbered Republicans by 11 percent and hence skewed the results. The questions that were asked were also poorly worded, he told Rios.
“The same media that put their bias to the polls in 2016, that were saying there was no way Donald Trump could win, Hillary had an electoral vote,” McLaughlin told the radio program, “are being done with the same bad methodologies.”
The current slate of political polls are often done on the cheap because newsrooms don’t want to fork over the money for a list of registered voters, McLaughlin advised, and therefore polls often don’t reflect the number of likely voters. Left-wing bias is also a major factor, he added.
Even on the well-read RealClearPolitics website, McLaughlin said, only one current poll surveyed likely voters.
“Which is significant,” he told Rios.
So what do polls about impeachment have to do with polls on the Second Amendment?
That’s easy. These polls are often done by the same people using the same methodologies. The flaws that McLaughlin argues are present in things like the Fox News poll on impeachment are still present on countless other polls.
In other words, these polls may well be telling us there’s broad support among voters for something that most voters may not even care that much about. Couple that with vague wording on gun issues and you create something of a perfect storm of bad information. After all, most people would say they support taking guns from crazy people, but they also might not support the effort to do so completely ignoring due process. And just how many people think “semi-automatic” and “automatic” are basically the same thing?
When you hear about these polls, it’s important to understand just what information they have. Are they useful for understanding the minds of many Americans? Sure, but only within their limitations.
As McLaughlin points out, though, the limitations are quite significant.