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If you need some handy numbers to argue that violent video games are more dangerous than guns, Public Policy Polling has just delivered a gift-wrapped poll result especially for you. In the middle of a long poll attempting to suss out potential front runners for the 2016 elections, PPP decided to toss in a question comparing violent video games and guns.
There you have it. Violent video games are a "bigger safety threat" than guns, according to two out of three respondents. Seems pretty open and shut. Everyone cross out the word "gun" on your pet piece of legislation and replace it with "video game!" The nation is saved!
Many of you may be reaching for your guns/lower jaw/commenting implement. Before we start firing off mouths/angry wall o' text screeds/bullets, let's have a look at the methodology.
PPP surveyed 800 voters nationally from January 31st to February 3rd. The margin of error for the survey is +/-3.5%. We oversampled 416 Democratic and 508 Republican primary voters with margins of error of +/-4.8% and +/-4.4% respectively. In Iowa between February 1st and 3rd we interviewed 313 Democratic and 326 Republican primary voters with margins of error of +/-5.5% and +/-5.4% respectively. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews.
This certainly seems above board. So, why do the results seem so surprising? Well, maybe it's the prevailing demographics of those surveyed. As pointed out in the comments at Kotaku, there are two factors that skew the results.
1. 72% of the respondents are older than 45.
2. The "violent video games" question was only posed to Republican primary voters.
Now, this data pretty much agrees with the stereotypical view that older people and Republicans trust guns more than they trust violent video games. Sure, there are plenty of outliers along the way, but the Republican Party has generally fought gun control laws, and older people are generally more distrustful of recent technology. In fact, given a narrow enough demographic, you could probably get poll results that indicates that "most Americans" believe cellphones are a bigger safety threat than depleted uranium.
So, what PPP has actually done is gift-wrapped a set of numbers useful for preaching to the converted. All it does is add to noise that surrounds this heated topic. Considering there's nothing else resembling that question in the other several dozen pages, one wonders why the question appears at all. Truly bizarre.
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