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Polling of hunters and anglers in three swing states suggests some 80 percent will vote in this year's presidential election

Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation — Oct. 19, 2004

WASHINGTON — The campaigns of both President Bush and Senator Kerry have placed a high priority on winning the sportsmen's vote during this campaign, but hunters and anglers may play an even greater role in the election than either camp had predicted, based on the findings of a survey released by the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation (CSF).

The survey of licensed hunters and anglers in Florida, New Mexico, and Ohio suggests that the percentage of sportsmen who will cast votes in these key swing states will be well above the national average. Based on survey findings in Ohio, 75% of sportsmen are considered "likely voters," the number jumps to 80% in New Mexico, and Florida tops the group with 82%.

"This survey re-emphasizes that hunters and anglers are an active and important constituency and that the attention that President Bush and Senator Kerry have been giving to sportsmen is well-aimed," commented Melinda Gable, Executive Director of the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

President Bush, an avid bass fisherman and bird hunter, has held at least two major meetings with representatives of sportsmen's groups in recent months and the Kerry Campaign has publicized that the Senator is a long-time hunter, angler and target shooter. "Sportsmen For Bush" and "Sportsmen For Kerry" committees have also been formed by the respective campaigns. And with more than 8 in 10 sportsmen polled stating they will definitely vote in this year's Presidential election, it is clear to see why sportsmen are a key constituency.

Of equal importance, the survey suggests that a sizable number of the sportsmen polled have yet to make a firm decision on a candidate (Ohio 30%, New Mexico 20%, Florida 22%), leaving in the balance several hundred thousand votes in these three states — a finding of great significance considering this extremely close election and the fact that only a few hundred votes in the 2000 election determined the winner of several key states.

It should be noted that with this consistently high rate of political activism by sportsmen in these three states, other battleground states with high sportsmen populations such as Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin will likely also see the effects of the sportsmen's vote.

About nine in ten sportsmen polled said that they voted in the 2000 elections. If true, then sportsmen made up a large portion of the total vote in these states (Ohio 27%, Florida 33% and New Mexico 38%) during the last presidential election.

Doug Painter, Hunting and Shooting Sports Heritage Foundation president, stresses the importance of participation, "There are nearly 40 million sportsmen of voting age in the United States. If all of us had voted in the 2000 presidential election, we would have equaled 36 percent of the entire vote. This year, more than ever, we must maximize the sportsmen's voice at the polls."

"With less than three weeks before the election, hunters and anglers have done their scouting and set their alarm clocks for November 2. Many just haven't decided which candidate's camp they'll visit," Gable said.

Candidates views on hunting and fishing are important

Just as candidates are paying more attention to sportsmen as a voting constituency, hunters and anglers are paying more attention to the issues that matter most to them as sportsmen, with 8 in 10 sportsmen surveyed stating that a candidate's position on sportsmen's issues is important in determining who they will vote for.

Support of sportsmen's issues is highly related to backing a presidential candidate

By more than a two to one margin, sportsmen feel George W. Bush has been more supportive of sportsmen's issues than Senator John Kerry would be if elected President. As a result, in all three swing states President Bush is currently the candidate of choice for most sportsmen (50% to 36% for Kerry among Ohio's likely sportsmen voters, 67% to 24% in Florida and 71% to 22% in New Mexico).

Sportsmen come from all political walks of life

While sportsmen are generally considered a conservative block, a large number are Democrat or Independent and willing to cross party lines in favor of a candidate who is pro-hunting and fishing. Less than one-third of the sportsman-respondents considered a candidate's political party to be essential in determining for whom they will vote.

Gun rights, mercury contamination of fish are top concerns for sportsmen

Although homeland security, the economy and health care are top concerns for all Americans this election season, a majority of sportsmen polled said that it is essential for a candidate to share their views on hunting and fishing issues. As for sportsmen's issues, gun rights topped the list in New Mexico, with preventing mercury contamination of fish being the top concern in Ohio and Florida.

It is clear that sportsmen care about conservation and protecting their hunting and fishing traditions and recent history has shown that they will use their votes to help ensure the future of these traditions. Which candidate sportsmen identify as most supportive of their hunting and fishing heritage over the next few weeks may very well be the occupant of the White House for the next four years.

Roper Public Affairs Methodology — Results are based on a telephone survey of sportsmen (i.e., persons with hunting and/or fishing licenses) in New Mexico, Florida, and Ohio. Each respondent was randomly selected on an "nth" name basis from up-to-date and comprehensive lists of registered hunters and anglers in their respective states. A total of 1,200 interviews were conducted — 400 in each state.

Interviews in Ohio and New Mexico were collected from September 14-30, 2004. Interviews in Florida were delayed due to the weather and were conducted from 9/20-9/26 and 10/4-10/10. All interviews were conducted at an NOP World owned and operated telephone interviewing facility, using computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) software.

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