One of the tricks used in politics is to use surveys to prove there’s significant support for whatever you’re trying to push. I know that we do it to some extent here, but it’s worse in the halls of the legislative branch of the federal government as well as the numerous state governments.
The idea is that if a certain group supports a measure, they won’t vote against you for supporting that measure.
Where it becomes a real problem is when those numbers used are false or misleading, and the National Rifle Association is calling out Giffords for using those kinds of numbers [emphasis NRA]:
In a 2/14/19 article by Julia Manchester posted on The Hill.com, the reporter says that “The Giffords Law Center, a gun control advocacy group, found in a poll one month after the Parkland shooting last year that 69 percent of National Rifle Association members expressed support” for gun control.
That is FALSE. That statement and any claims by the Gifford gun control advocacy organization about polling of NRA members is patently untrue. Let me say that another way: in all probability, it is an intentional and calculated lie designed to deceive honest people.
For years, gun control advocates have been talking about bogus surveys that claim NRA members support gun control. The fact is that none of those surveys had access to the NRA’s membership list – EVER. They are intentionally misrepresenting NRA members’ views.
NRA’s membership list is protected and ONLY NRA can survey NRA members.
In the past, to expose these false claims by gun banners, NRA has commissioned national scientific surveys — 1,000 randomly selected NRA members across the country — and found that NRA members are united on Second Amendment issues.
It’s also worth noting that Giffords doesn’t have access to the NRA membership records, so they have no way of knowing just who is and isn’t an NRA member.
The best they can do is conduct a random survey and ask if the respondent is a member of the NRA.
However, surveys are tricky things. For example, how you phrase a question matters a great deal. “Are you currently a member of the NRA?” and “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the NRA?” are very different questions.
For another, there’s no way to gauge people’s honesty. Considering the number of false hate crimes that have been reported since 2016, it’s not difficult to believe that some anti-gunners would falsely identify themselves as NRA members to skew the results.
Further, without specifics, the claim that 69 percent of NRA members support gun control is meaningless. After all, we currently have gun control laws on the books. Are they saying that 69 percent aren’t interested in repealing much of what currently exists or are you saying they want whole new gun laws too?
In other words, the claim is worthless.
The NRA, however, does have access to its membership list. They can survey their actual members and know they’re actually members with a high degree of certainty.
I don’t think the NRA is wrong when they call out lying with these numbers from Giffords, though. At best, they’re being dishonest in representing these as actual NRA members with no disclaimers. At worst, they just made some crap up.
Either way, you can’t trust a thing they say.