You’ve been hearing that phase over and over again in the MSM, supposedly this reflects how many Americans agree that Universal Background Checks are something worth pursuing. I would venture a guess that almost all polls are biased, but we tend to overlook that unfortunate truth as we have a love affair with stats and percentages. How many times do you hear sometime cite a percentage as fact (i.e. 9 times out of 10). Have you ever questioned them? If you did there would probably be an awkward pause followed by: “well, you know what I mean.” No I don’t know what you mean, especially when you state that 90% of the time (9 times out of 10) XYZ happens. Facts which substantiate your claim please?
Fox News publishes polls which support their position, and likewise MSNBC / CNN do the same. Usually we tend to latch on to whichever poll we find agrees with our personal agenda before preaching the results from the mountaintops (the modern version of that being posting to online forums or blogging). As the title of this post reflects, most recently the MSM has been publishing all sorts of articles which repeat one phrase: Over 90 percent of Americans support Universal Background Checks. No seriously, click here to see for yourself. I needed to find out what constituted “90 percent of Americans”, in a country of 311 Million (ish) people that equates to roughly 279 Million people. Obviously you cannot poll everyone in the country, but I still needed to dig a little deeper.
I started my quest to verify these results by researching the organization which conducted the poll. A google search revealed that Quinnipiac University, which is based out of Hamden, Connecticut (ironically a state with some of the most draconian gun control laws in place) was responsible for the poll. On their Polling Institute details page the following statement is made with respect to their background check survey.
“In every Quinnipiac University poll since the Newtown massacre, nationally and in six states, we find overwhelming support, including among gun owners, for universal background checks,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “American voters agree with the National Rifle Association, however, that these background checks could lead someday to confiscation of legally-owned guns.”
So there were only 6 states used in the survey? Let me guess: California, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Colorado and New York. That’s just a guess on my part as I could not find which states were actually used, but I digress. My next task was the find out just how many people participated in this “nationwide survey” of 6 states. The answer: 1,711 registered voters. You can find this info by checking the demographic information at the bottom of the page. Here’s what else the demographic info reveals. The “majority of Americans, or 90% of Americans” (however you want to say it) are primarily democratic white women over 55, who reside in urban households in the south…if I’m reading the data correctly.
Irregardless of how the demographics read I think the main point to understand is that there is no possible way that 1,711 individuals represent the entire population of our country. The lesson learned here is that everything is not always as it seems, be very careful latching on to any information from the media (whether you agree with it or not). Also be very skeptical of information put out by politicians or lobbyist groups (NRA), do some research before blindly accepting it as fact.