Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites


Most Election Polling is Garbage, Gun Control Polling is Too

Monday, November 9, 2020

Most Election Polling is Garbage, Gun Control Polling is Too

Americans are still divided over the reported results of the 2020 election, but one issue that is bringing the country together is a shared disgust of opinion polling. Several “mainstream”polling firms, and the legacy media outlets that tout their bogus findings, have disgraced themselves with wildly inaccurate predictions that managed to tilt almost entirely in a single direction. Gun owners should know that polls touting a purported decline in gun ownership or the supposed popularity of some gun control measures aren’t any better. 

Consider a sampling of predictions on the presidential race from some of America’s more august news sources.

Arizona (Disputed/Too close to call)

New York Times/Siena (10/26 - 10/30): Biden +6

CNN (10/23 - 10/30): Biden +4

Florida (Trump won by 3.3%)

New York Times/Siena (10/27 - 10/31): Biden +3

Quinnipiac (10/28 - 11/1): Biden +5

CNN (10/15 - 10/20): Biden +4

Iowa (Trump won by 8.2%)

New York Times/Siena (10/18 - 10/20): Biden +3

Quinnipiac (10/1 - 10/5): Biden +5

Michigan (Disputed/Too close to call)

New York Times/Siena (10/23 - 10/26): Biden +8

ABC News/Washington Post (10/20 - 10/25): +7

CNN (10/23 - 10/30): Biden +12

Nevada (Disputed/Too close to call)

New York Times/Siena (10/23 - 10/26): Biden +6 

Pennsylvania (Disputed/Too close to call)

New York Times/Siena (10/27 - 10/31): Biden +6

ABC News/Washington Post (10/24 - 10/29): +7

CNN (10/15 - 10/20): Biden +10

Wisconsin (Disputed/Too close to call)

New York Times/Siena (10/26 - 10/30): Biden +11

ABC News/Washington Post (10/20 - 10/25): Biden +17

CNN (10/23 - 10/30): Biden +10

The polling for some of the high-profile U.S. Senate contests was similarly ridiculous.

Iowa (Sen. Joni Ernst (R) defeated Theresa Greenfield (D) by 6.6%)

New York Times/Siena (10/18 - 10/20): Ernst +1

Emerson (10/29 - 10/30): Greenfield +4

Maine (Sen. Susan Collins (R) defeated Sara Gideon (D) by 8.9%)

New York Times/Siena (9/11 - 9/16): Gideon +5

Boston Globe/Suffolk (9/17 - 9/20): Gideon +5

Quinnipiac (9/10 - 9/14): Gideon +12

Michigan (Sen. Gary Peters (D) versus John James (R), Disputed/Too close to call)

New York Times/Siena (10/23 - 10/26): Peters +8

ABC News/Washington Post (10/20 - 10/25): Peters +6

CNN (10/23 - 10/30): Peters +12

Based on polling data, on November 2 the Cook Political Report claimed that the Democrats were poised to expand their U.S. House majority by 10 to 15 seats. Back here on Earth, Republicans picked up an estimated 5-10 House seats.

With so many massive errors in favor of the Democrats, a reasonable person might get the impression the legacy press and their pollsters were attempting to influence the election rather than report on it.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R) defeated his well-funded opponent by 11 points after Quinnipiac called the race a tie as recently as late September. Summing up the general feeling among the American public, Sen. Graham said, “To all the pollsters out there, you have no idea what you’re doing.”

Longtime pollster Frank Luntz was also blunt in his assessment of the industry’s performance, telling Axios “The political polling profession is done.”

Aside from the potential of intentional political bias, researchers have posited several theories as to why the polls were so wrong. 

In recent years pollsters have had an increasingly difficult time finding people willing to take a survey. Pew Research reported that the response rate for a typical telephone poll in 2018 was only 6 percent. To put it in context, the response rate in 1997 was 36 percent. With such a precipitous drop in participation, more firms have come to rely on online polling methods. However, the New York Times reported in 2019 that “online pollsters have, for the most part, put forward relatively little evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach.”

Others have expressed concern about whether pollsters are capable of reaching individual segments of the population in their proper proportions in order to make their survey pool representative of the American population as a whole or the electorate. This has been particularly pronounced in polling firms’ability to reach rural and working-class voters. 

Moreover, there is some evidence that conservative or libertarian-leaning individuals are less likely to participate in polls. In an election polling postmortem that included interviews with several pollsters, the Wall Street Journal reported,

Some have come to believe that a distrust of institutions is more pervasive than anticipated across many voter groups, and that it leads conservative voters, even those with college degrees and urban addresses, to avoid participating in polls in disproportionate numbers. If so, the problem likely can’t be corrected by adding more members of any one demographic group to a polling sample, they said.

In this same vein, some researchers have posited that there was a “shy”Trump vote comprised of individuals who intended to vote for President Trump but refused to tell pollsters of their plans due to the potential stigma associated with their preference. This reluctance to be forthright with pollsters can be viewed as a natural outgrowth of a political climate in which elites enforce their political and cultural orthodoxy through physical, social, and pecuniary intimidation.

There is good reason to believe that a similar situation takes place when pollsters ask Americans about gun ownership. Economist John Lott contends that many Americans refuse to answer or do not answer truthfully when asked about whether they own a firearm. In a piece for Fox News, Lott noted “current events influence people’s willingness to acknowledge gun ownership. After mass shootings, a sudden drop can be seen in the polling numbers.” 

Wake Forest Professor of Sociology David Yamane shares Lott’s belief that inaccurate polling systematically underestimates gun ownership in the U.S. In a 2019 piece titled “Why Surveys Underestimate Gun Ownership Rates in the U.S.,”Yamane laid out the case for systematic underreporting and provided a bevy of reasons why gun owners would be reluctant to be truthful with pollsters. The professor noted, “My educated guess is that the underestimate is at least 10%, that 25% would not be an unreasonable amount, and more than 25% is likely.”

In part, Yamane cited the work of another academic, Iowa State Political Science Professor Robert Urbatsch. In a study published in the June 2019 Social Science Journal titled “Gun-shy: Refusal to answer questions about firearm ownership,”Urbatsch explored the unwillingness of Americans to answer survey questions about firearms ownership. The abstract explained, 

In recent years, surveys in the United States have faced increasing refusal to answer questions about firearm ownership, even as other similar questions see no comparable up-tick in item nonresponse. Asymmetrical polarization, elite messaging, and changing media institutions all suggest that the surging nonresponse concerning gun-ownership questions may be increasingly concentrated among those with rightward political and partisan leanings, potentially skewing inferences about gun-related issues. Data from the General Social Survey confirms that the increase in probability of declining to answer firearm-ownership questions is particularly stark among those identifying as Republicans, particularly those with a conservative outlook skeptical of government.

Moreover, in 2015, Zogby Analytics conducted a poll that attempted to gauge if gun ownership is underestimated by surveys. Zogby asked respondents “If a national pollster asked you if you owned a firearm, would you determine to tell him or her the truth or would you feel it was none of their business?”The polling firm found “36% of Americans feel it is none of the pollster's business and that includes 35% of current gun owners 47% of Republicans and 42% of Independents.” 

The polling on gun control policies is no better than the garbage cranked out before election day. This fact has been proven again and again at the ballot box.

Based on dubious polling, gun control advocates claim that an overwhelming majority of the population supports the criminalization of private firearm transfers –sometimes referred to as “universal background checks.”For instance, Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s astroturf anti-gun organization Everytown for Gun Safety claims that “more than 90 percent of Americans”back this onerous gun control policy. Likewise, gun control group Giffords contends “more than 90% of the American public supports”the criminalization of private firearm transfers.

The actual support for the criminalization of private firearm transfers has been tested at the ballot box in three different states with results that bear no resemblance to what these gun control groups and their favorite pollsters claim. 

In 2016, gun control supporters asked Maine voters to vote for Question 3, which would have required background checks on private firearm transfers. Mainers rejected the measure 52 to 48 percent. 

That same year, an unlawful ballot measure asked Nevadans to support the criminalization of private transfers. The poorly constructed measure barely passed; 50.45-49.55 percent.

In 2014, Washington voters approved the deeply-flawed I-594, which imposed a background check requirement on even some of the most innocuous conduct involving firearms. More popular than the other initiatives, the measure still only passed 59-41 percent. 

Given the abysmal recent track record of opinion polling, gun rights supporters shouldn’t let untrustworthy survey data distract them for one moment from voting and working to defend the right to keep and bear arms. If anything, it would be reasonable for gun owners to suspect that the legacy media and pollsters’continued insistence on pushing misleading data that uniformly benefits anti-gun political elites is an attempt to undermine gun rights, and for gun rights supporters to redouble their pro-gun efforts accordingly.

Gun Grabbers Demand Unprecedented “Executive Actions”


Monday, November 23, 2020

Gun Grabbers Demand Unprecedented “Executive Actions”

Biden was supposedly the point man for the gun control push Barack Obama launched during his second term. Obama has made a point of repeatedly emphasizing how lack of “progress” on gun control was the most frustrating and anger-inducing aspect ...

Anti-gun Politicians Seek to Tax Your Second Amendment Rights Into Oblivion


Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Anti-gun Politicians Seek to Tax Your Second Amendment Rights Into Oblivion

In 1819, Chief Justice John Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court famously wrote:  “the power to tax involves the power to destroy ….”

BATFE Leadership Push Biden to Target Pistol Stabilizing Braces and Unfinished Receivers


Monday, November 16, 2020

BATFE Leadership Push Biden to Target Pistol Stabilizing Braces and Unfinished Receivers

Just in case anyone needed further proof that much of the federal bureaucracy is more interested in serving themselves and left-wing political interests than public service, news broke this week that rogue elements of Bureau ...

A Government of Laws, Not of Men


Monday, November 23, 2020

A Government of Laws, Not of Men

Justice Samuel Alito of the United States Supreme Court released a keynote address for a Federalist Society event. Speaking on “The Declination of Individual Liberty,” he discussed the alarming erosion of our fundamental constitutional rights – notably, ...

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

Gun Laws  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Guide To The Interstate Transportation Of Firearms

CAUTION: Federal and state firearms laws are subject to frequent change. This summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law.

Gallup: Support for Gun Control has Dropped and It’s Not a Priority for Americans


Monday, November 23, 2020

Gallup: Support for Gun Control has Dropped and It’s Not a Priority for Americans

After a year of COVID uncertainty, civil unrest, and record gun sales, support for further firearms restrictions has reached its lowest point since 2016. Moreover, the data shows that exceedingly few Americans consider additional gun controls the ...

ATF Continues Rogue Assault on Common Pistols, Rule of Law


Monday, November 2, 2020

ATF Continues Rogue Assault on Common Pistols, Rule of Law

Rogue elements of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are continuing their assault on certain types of commonly-owned semi-automatic pistols. According to the law firm Wiley, ATF has developed a new interpretation of ...

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Want to Destroy the Second Amendment


Monday, November 2, 2020

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Want to Destroy the Second Amendment

While discussion of the Second Amendment and gun control have been noticeably absent from the presidential debates and mainstream media coverage, gun rights are without a doubt on the ballot tomorrow.

Delaware: Court Strikes Down Ban on Hunting with Semi-Autos

Friday, November 20, 2020

Delaware: Court Strikes Down Ban on Hunting with Semi-Autos

Today, the Delaware Superior Court issued its decision in the NRA-backed DSSA v. Garvin case, striking down the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) regulations that banned hunting deer with semi-automatic rifles.

Virginia Gun Ban Agenda 2021: Concealed Carry Under Attack

Monday, November 23, 2020

Virginia Gun Ban Agenda 2021: Concealed Carry Under Attack

Lori Haas, of the so-called Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV), formerly known as the National Coalition to ban Handguns until 1990, is already working with the office of Attorney General Mark Herring to attack your ...


More Like This From Around The NRA


Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.