Monday, October 6, 2008

Hunters, religion and politics

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:

Evangelical Christians: This one didn't surprise me at all.

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


Josh said...

Great stuff! I just wanted to point out that you assumed that only the self-described liberals would have voted for Kerry, but many people who declared moderate (or even conservative) may have voted for him, also.

By the way, who did the other 18% vote for? Perot?

NorCal Cazadora said...

Two percent "didn't know" who they voted for (hello?), and 16 percent refused to answer. And good point on the mods voting for Kerry too.

Also: I forgot to mention that 25 percent of the hunters and anglers surveyed were women (which closely matches U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service data).

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Fascinating stuff, let's ask James what he thinks the mix would be on this side of the pond.
Assumption tells me I'm probably the only gun totin' liberal in town.

NorCal Cazadora said...

SBW, I'd be very interested to hear about that. All I know about politics and guns over there is that hunting is tied much more to class.

Anonymous said...

I love it when you crunch data Holly. You always bring up interesting points.

I'd also be interested in seeing how the numbers from Great Britain breakdown as well. The different attitudes about hunting that different countries have fascinate me.

sportingdays said...

Rednecks for Obama at this link:

NorCal Cazadora said...

That's hilarious! Now, will someone please send that to Obama so he learns a little something about hunters?

Blessed said...

Very interesting data... thanks Holly!

SimplyOutdoors said...


I've come to love your data crunching ways. Very intriguing stuff. The data honestly wasn't far off from what I would've guessed.

Thanks for doing all the work though and showing the rest of us.

I love data.

Live to Hunt.... said...

Good stuff. Not a lot of suprises, but the AH HA for me is the reminder that we need to work, as Holly says, to get both the Dems and Reps beholden to us. So true, so true. I don't care who you vote for, so long as you let that person know how much hunting and gun ownership mean to you. Great post Holly.

Josh said...

I did notice one surprise, and that is that only 53% voted for Bush in '04. That's pretty low, if you ask me, considering how many were self-described conservatives.

Have you seen any numbers for the upcoming election?

NorCal Cazadora said...

That surprised me too, but I'm guessing the 16 percent who refused to answer chipped in some more votes for Bush. (I should've included the "refused" figure in the chart, but I'd made each chart three times already, fixing this and that, and decided it was time to fish or cut bait.)

I don't have anything on current polling. It's really hard to get hunter/angler attitudes in surveys because unless you target us exclusively, the way Responsive Management did, we end up being a very small subset of any survey, and the smaller the subset, the less reliable the results.

With any luck, Responsive Management will do another survey after this election.

And to everyone else: Thanks! I love playing with data. I positively wallow in it.

Brandon Darnell said...

Very interesting post. It's just proof, once again, that it's damned impossible to stereotype the pursuers of a hobby or anything into who or what they vote for.

Hopefully we can someday get away from the incessant polarization and us vs. them mindset.

NorCal Cazadora said...

It's funny - after the debate last night, there was an AARP ad where they've morphed the donkey and the elephant into one creature. I forget the exact slogan, but the point is that united, people can make a difference.

And it's true. Politicians don't eff with old people, regardless of party, because old people exert a lot of unity and power on Capitol Hill,

James Marchington said...

Interesting discussion... here in the UK shooters aren't so politicised - we just feel picked on by government as a whole! The foxhunting issue was largely about class, and became very political. The anti-shooting organisations do their best to portray shooters as chinless toffs in tweeds, because that helps to whip up hatred among the general public - but even the most ignorant member of the public doesn't really buy that one. I know that readers of our magazine come from all walks of life, from driven grouse shooters with a pair of Purdeys to folks who keep a couple of ferrets and an airgun.

I asked Judith Howell, politics officer of our national shooting organisation BASC, for her views. She told me:

"Our membership is broadly rural conservative with a small 'c' and has a higher than standard interest in rural affairs and the environment as a result, but that applies to all of the political parties and its fair to say that every government of every persuasion has had to be lobbied
on rural affairs for the past 30 years.

Shooting has a cross party consensus with all of the three main parties having recently reiterated their support, so there's no equivalent to the NRA lobby as there is in the USA. However, this could be fragile if
a single incident mass killing occurred as in the States or Finland."

James Marchington said...

...Rob Gray of the UK's Countryside Alliance points out that "due to UK law the Alliance, BASC or any other campaigning organisation cannot express preference for political parties," and says that his organisation don't have any data on members' political leanings.

NorCal Cazadora said...

Interesting. Our organizations often have auxiliaries created under separate laws that allow them to get involved in politics. Thanks for chiming in on this!