Did Someone Jigger the Survey Results?

Posted by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

From New West Travel and Outdoors

Refusal to Release Survey Details Casts Doubt on Pro-McCain Poll

Prestigious sportsmen’s group discredits its own survey. You have to ask why?

By Bill Schneider, 9-17-08

My July 9 column titled, Hunters, Look Beyond the End of Your Gun Barrel, urged hunters to look at the big picture instead of basing their vote exclusively on the gun rights issue, which I consider basically over since politicians won’t touch it and the Supreme Court has finally reaffirmed the individual’s right to bear arms. The column wasn’t about whether Barack Obama is more anti-gun than John McCain, even though most of the comments were. It was about voting for the candidate who would do the most to protect wildlife habitat and hunting access and therefore help save our hunting tradition.

Ironically, on the same day I posted that column, the Los Angeles Times ran an article about a new poll showing hunters preferred McCain over Obama by a 14-point margin.

This didn’t jive with my feel for how hunters view of the big race, so I decided to check out this survey.

Then, it got interesting.

A few days after the LA Times article, a press release sent to members of the Outdoor Writers Association of America said the survey of “1,009 sportsmen” was conducted by a top survey firm, Braun Research, and paid for by two pro-gun, pro-hunting groups, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

“By a 2 to 1 margin sportsman said McCain would be a better president on sportsmen’s issues than Obama,” the release stated.

The mission statement of the CSF, the lead organization on the survey, states, in part: “For nearly two decades, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation has maintained a singleness of purpose that has guided the organization to become the most respected and trusted hunting and fishing organization in the political arena…. With support from every major hunting and fishing organization and industry, CSF is the leader in promoting sportsmen’s issues with elected officials.”

The CSF is closely aligned with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which includes 60 senators and 229 representatives who have expressed their concern for the future of hunting and fishing, and with many similar, state-based caucuses.

The NSSF is a trade association for firearms manufacturers and promotes shooting sports, including hunting.

“Politically engaged sportsmen see John McCain as a supporter of their concerns,” Steve Sanetti, president of NSSF, said in the release. “To sportsmen, I would say, don’t be fooled. Make it a point to know where the candidates you’re considering for office truly stand on hunting and firearms issues.”

And I agree wholeheartedly. Hunters, don’t be fooled.

Before reporting the results of this poll, I wanted to review the survey questions and find out which “1,009 sportsmen” were surveyed, so I contacted the media contacts for both groups, Melinda Gable of CSF and Bill Brassard of NSSF. I sent several emails and made at least two calls to each of them, but no response.

That seemed strange for starters. Nonprofits with political agendas almost always rapidly respond to media inquiries.

I’ll spare you the details, but I kept pushing until, almost two months later, I finally received a response, an email from Gable. “My apologies,” she said, “but we are not able to make the survey available.”

I tried to find out why, but again, she didn’t respond, and Brassard passed it to Gable, saying: “She’s in charge of this one.”

Why won’t the CSF reveal the survey questions or demographic information on the group surveyed? Are they scared the truth will be out, that this is another example of a survey being manipulated to guarantee the desired results of the people paying for it? I, for one, am going to assume that this is nothing more than dirty politics until somebody shows me the survey questions and reveals demographics of those surveyed.

I’ve been kicking around in the media biz for forty years, and I know it’s extremely unusual for a nonprofit, especially a group like CSF with close ties to Congress, to refuse to reveal such information about what’s being billed as a scientific survey. But it gets even stranger.

At the end of this column, you’ll find the full text of the press release. Normally, while writing such articles, I simply link to the release in question, but neither nonprofit has the release posted on its website, even though every other press release sent out in the past few years seems to be there. And the link in LA Times article goes nowhere, only to the CSF home page, where there isn’t one word about the survey. The release itself says, “For more information on the survey results go to http://www.sportsmenslink.org,” but again, it isn’t there.

Hmm. What’s going on? Did the groups get scared after somebody in the media wanted to see the facts and pulled the release off their websites because they feared it would be interpreted as politically skewed? If the survey was done fairly and professionally, what is the problem?

Keeping in mind that most gun owners don’t hunt, I suspect the survey was really about gun rights, not hunting, and those surveyed were focused on gun issues, not the future of hunting, which are two very different issues. But I admit that’s only speculation because I don’t have the facts.

I suppose I should move on, writing it off to election-year politics, but one more round before I do. I’m taking the liberty of sending this column and cover emails to leaders of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, including co-chairs Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID). Perhaps one of them can call Jeff Crane, president of the CSF, the self-acclaimed “most respected and trusted hunting and fishing organization,” and ask what he is hiding, and why, and if hunters should still respect and trust CSF?

You could do the same. Here’s the phone number and email: 202-543-6850, jeff@sportsmenslink.org.

Full text of the press release:

John McCain is the preferred Presidential candidate among sportsmen, as well as the preferred sporting partner

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Sportsmen have a solid history of voting, with 9 in 10 currently registered to vote and of those 83 percent say they will vote in the November election, according to a new survey by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. Overall, there are an estimated 40 million sportsmen of voting age in the United States.

“Sportsmen are active voters and prefer candidates who align with them on hunting and fishing issues,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “The attention presidential candidates give to sportsmen’s issues is well-aimed.”

Among sportsmen, Republican John McCain holds a significant lead over White House opponent Barack Obama, with a 14-point margin according to the survey.

Asked who they planned to vote for in November, 45 percent said McCain and 31 percent said Obama.

Support for McCain among sportsmen extends from the voting booth to the field, the survey found.

Asked who they’d like to go hunting with, 49 percent said McCain and 27 percent said Obama. As a fishing buddy, 44 percent said they’d prefer McCain and 31 percent chose Obama.

“Sportsmen view John McCain as good company in the great outdoors,” said Steve Sanetti, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which helped underwrite the survey. “They’re just not sure how much fun Barack Obama would be in a duck blind.”

By a 2 to 1 margin sportsman said McCain would be a better president on sportsmen’s issues than Obama.

“Politically engaged sportsmen see John McCain as a supporter of their concerns,” Sanetti said. “To sportsmen, I would say, don’t be fooled. Make it a point to know where the candidates you’re considering for office truly stand on hunting and firearms issues.”

A majority of sportsmen polled said that it is important for a candidate to share their views on hunting and fishing issues, although the survey indicated the economy, homeland security and the war in Iraq are the top concerns for all Americans this election season.

When it comes to sportsmen-related issues, sportsmen are most likely to say that it’s essential that a candidate support ensuring gun rights, clean water initiatives, and sustainable energy development.

“With an estimated $76 billion economic impact on the economy annually and direct support of 1.6 million jobs, the next president will need to pay attention to issues that impact hunting and fishing,” said Crane. “Sportsmen need to ask candidates where they stand on our outdoor issues and take this into account when they vote on November 4th.”

Other key findings of the survey include: (1) A significant portion of sportsmen say this November’s election is more important than past elections regarding their ability to hunt and fish; (2) On the specific topic of gun rights, sportsmen say firearm issues are more important now than in past elections; and (3) Three-quarters (74%) say they would prefer to elect a president who personally owns firearms.

The telephone survey of 1,009 sportsmen was conducted July 10-24 by Braun Research on behalf of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and Ketchum Global Research. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan group headquartered in Washington, D.C. A leader in promoting sportsmen’s issues with elected officials, CSF works with the bi-partisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus in the U.S. Congress, as well as sportsmen’s caucuses in state legislators around the country. The CSF does not endorse political candidates.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, based in Newtown, Conn., works to increase participation in and understanding of hunting and the shooting sports; to reaffirm and strengthen their members’ commitment to the safe and responsible use of their products, and to promote a political climate supportive of America’s traditional firearms rights. The survey was also supported by National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers, Outdoor Channel, American Sportfishing Association and the National Marine Manufacturers Association. For more information on the survey results go to http://www.sportsmenslink.org.

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6 Responses to “Did Someone Jigger the Survey Results?”

  1. I was brought up in a gun-toting hunting and fishing family.  And none of that catch and release stuff, my mom cooked us up many a trout dinner during my childhood.  My dad helped my son earn his Boy Scout badge in shooting and in conservation, both equally important issues for true sportsmen.  I know all about McCain’s having been in soup with the NRA several times in his senate career and now he’s relying on their help to win? 

    It tells me that some members of the gun lobby are stuck on the idea that having an R on the end of your voter registration is more important than telling the truth and that’s shameful. 

  2. Did the LA Times verify the statistics in the press release. Is there someone there that could speak to this? And if if can’t be verified, could you encourage the LA Times to write a retraction explaining that the survey result cannot be verified.

  3. Smells fishy to me. What kind of polling outfit can’t release the poll itself?

  4. People who evade have something to hide, usually a big fat lie:

    Watergate, Abscam, Iran-Contra, Blow-Gate, Troopergate, Librariangate…..


    It’s always the same pattern.

  5. Mark: You forgot Dairygate.  Miryam has been following that one very closely.  Anymore Palin related “gates” and we won’t need to build fences across any border, just nail shut all those gates lying around and call it done.

  6. […] in … said Idaho Senator Mike Crapo, co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. …The Back Forty Did Someone Jigger the Survey Results?The CSF is closely aligned with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, which includes 60 senators and […]

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