Data huntress strikes again!
About a week ago, I wondered out loud where hunters fit on the political and religious spectrum. What sparked the question was news that Lakota Industries had introduced a "Sarah Cuda" bow honoring Sarah Palin's "historic achievement" and "all the women who bear the responsibility of family and work while strengthening the moral fiber of society."
How many hunters would that message appeal to? I wondered. What percentage of hunters are potential Sarah Palin supporters (i.e. conservative)? And what percentage are, like Palin, evangelical?
Today I got the answers from Mark Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, a Virginia-based outdoors research firm. The firm did a survey in 2006 that asked precisely those questions as part of its research on hunters' and anglers' attitudes toward global warming.
Now before I present the data, I'm going to confess one sin of data crunching.
Responsive Management only surveyed hunters and anglers (1,031 of them, to be precise). But I really wanted to know how our numbers compared with general public's numbers, so I went out and got the best data I could get.
Unfortunately, it is a no-no to mix data collected through different methods, because you can't achieve a precise comparison. But I figured it was better than looking at our numbers in a vacuum, so I did it anyway. And some of the results are kind of interesting. I'm curious to hear what you folks think of it.
So here it is, with a few comments here and there. If you find the type too small to see clearly, just click on the image to get an enlargement:
Political leanings: What surprised me here was how closely our conservative and moderate numbers matched the general population's. Then I remembered 7 percent of Duda's respondents refused to answer this question - those people might add to the conservative numbers.
The other surprise here? One in ten hunters/anglers is a liberal. (Probably all those catch-and-release folks right? ;-)
Voting rates: Hunters and anglers hit the ballot box (or at least tell surveyors they do) in MUCH higher percentages than the general public - and the difference is big enough that I'm not terribly worried about my apples-and-oranges data comparison here.
Interesting: Less than a week ago, U.S. News & World Report published a story about McCain's and Obama's efforts to woo the hook-and-bullet crowd. This data shows why we matter: We can have a disproportionaly high impact.
Presidential pick in '04: The only surprise here is that 29 percent of hunters and anglers admitted to voting for Kerry - certainly a much higher percentage than those who describe themselves as liberals. (And by the way, I made these charts in Excel and could not for the life of me figure out how to make Kerry blue and Bush red on this chart - for once, I was not being intentionally provocative.)
(A quick postscript in response to a couple comments: Sixteen percent of respondents in the Responsive Management survey refused to say who they voted for in 2004 - that's a pretty big question mark in the results.)
So what do I take from all of this? I keep going back to what former NRA lobbyist Richard Feldman told me about how there are 10 million self-described liberals in America who own guns. This data supports the notion that gun owners, hunters and anglers are not a conservative political monolith.
And I think that's really important for hunting, because I want both parties beholden to us, particularly in California, where Democrats have a substantial majority in the Legislature. If Dems knew how many hunters and anglers were on their side - and that they're more likely to vote than the buy-it-shrinkwrapped-at-the-grocery-store crowd - perhaps we'd get more respect.© Holly A. Heyser 2008