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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Congressional Sportsmen Foundation Poll Gives McCain Edge

The Politico reported yesterday that Barrack Obama is trailing John McCain among sportsmen but a surprising number say they’ll vote for him – far more than backed Al Gore or goose hunting John Kerry. According to a Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) poll to be released today, McCain leads Obama by a 45 to 31 percent. That’s only about half the 27-point edge respondents say they gave George W. Bush over Kerry four years ago and far short of the 65-to-15 percent margin gun owners gave to Bush over Gore in 2000. CSF polled 1,009 hunters and fishermen, between July 10 and July 24. The results could be a reflection of McCain’s up-and-down relationship with gun advocates and also suggests the he has not yet persuaded a core Republican constituency.

CSF Communication's Director Melinda Gable said, “I don’t think John McCain has really made his case to hunters and anglers. Things were very different in 2004. Everybody knew that George W. Bush was from Texas, he was a rancher and that he went hunting. We haven’t seen that from McCain yet—there’s the unknown—he really needs to come out as a sportsman. Neither candidate has talked a lot about the issues that are important to us.”

As I have written here on several occasions, McCain has a mostly pro-gun record in the Senate, opposing the Clinton Gun ban on certain semi-automatic firearms (misnamed assault weapons) and he supported the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. However, he’s not an avid hunter (but that should be a little concern because only the media and the gun ban lobby believe the Second Amendment is not about hunting) and has battled the National Rifle Association over his support for background checks on private sale of firearms at gun shows and his crusade for campaign finance reform.

McCain has tried to soothe the bad feelings at each of his appearances before NRA members in the past year (at the Annual Meeting in Louisville in May of this year and at the Celebration of American Values in September of '07) by portraying the Democrats as a common enemy. In May, he told those attending the Annual Meeting, “They claim to support hunters and gun owners. If… Senator Obama is elected president, the rights of law-abiding gun owners will be at risk.”

The survey showed that hunters have no great affection for Obama. Obama's long history of favoring more restrictive gun control laws as a state legislator is likely to blame. The poll showed that about half of those polled say they like McCain and would love to go on a hunt with him – compared to 29 percent who feel the same way about Obama. National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) President Steve Sanetti told the Politico that “Sportsmen view John McCain as good company in the great outdoors. They’re just not sure how much fun Barack Obama would be in a duck blind.”Fishermen are a little more Obama friendly, but favor the Arizona senator by a 44-to-31 margin.

For those not familiar with CSF, the group advocates gun rights and expanded access to federal land for hunters in congress and is bipartisan. A number of congressmen and senator's are members of the foundations' Congressional Sportmen's Caucus (including Virginia's Sen. John Warner, Rep. Rick Boucher, Rep. Eric Cantor, Rep. Thelma Drake, Rep. Virgil Goode, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Rep. Rob Wittman, and Rep. Frank Wolf).

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