WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 2013
This just in concerning background checks: Everyone and his great uncle has mentioned the fact that 90 percent of the public supported expanded background checks on gun purchases.
The polling seemed quite clear. Then, the gun bill got voted down, in a Senate vote where 55 senators would have supported the background check provision.
Today, Pew and the Washington Post have released a new survey of public opinion. Respondents were asked this question:
What word best describes how you feel about the Senate voting down new gun control legislation that included background checks on gun purchases?
Choices: Very happy, Relieved, Disappointed, Angry.
In the survey, 47 percent said they were disappointed or angry. Only 39 percent said they were very happy or relieved. Still, it’s hard to square this new result with the widespread polling which suggested that expanded background checks were wildly popular.
It’s hard to square this new result with the prior polling. For that reason, Chris Cillizza has simply dreamed up an explanation. To see his attempt, just click here.
Cillizza at least makes it sound like he has an explanation. Pending some fuller explanation, we will only say this:
This is the problem with polling us the people on anything more complex than who we plan to vote for in a two-person election.
As a group, we the people rarely understand policy questions. When we’re surveyed on such questions, we often produce baffling, contradictory survey results.
For the last few months, we have been told, again and again, about the very high percentage in favor of expanded background checks. And yes, the polling really existed. Over the weekend, Fox News asked this survey question:
Do you favor or oppose expanding background checks on gun buyers?
In that survey, 82 percent said they favored expanding background checks. But how do we square results like that with this new result?
An explanation may emerge. Maybe Pew and the Post screwed up. Until then, this is the problem with polling us the people on policy questions like this.