Apr 09

90% of Americans agree that…

Opinion Polls

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.


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  1. The Maj

    You do know the classic three types of lies right? There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

    I do remember my first day of a statistics course in college. The professor started by explaining to the class that any data set could be molded to say what someone wanted to say. He even taught statistics “backwards” and showed us how to figure out the result we wanted, craft or select the methods to arrive at it, and then apply the selected method. I knew then and there that it was all a sham and statistics would always be flawed because of the human element.

    The same thing happens on all “surveys” whether it is global warming, gun control, or abortion. It is all in how the question is asked, then how it is recorded, and then how it is interpreted.

  2. Ranger W

    The path to the left is inevitable in this country. From the first continental congress there were “conservatives” that said “stick to the constitution, it’s good” and there were liberals that said “it’s pretty good, but needs some adjustment here and here”. In the name of statesmanship the conservatives always compromise. And what does that always equal? Moving further from the orignial constitution. Fast forward two years to next congress and the same thing happens. Now multiply that by a couple hundred years and we get where we are right now.

    The march to socialism will continue until it is stopped dead in it’s tracks.

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