Manufacturing Fake News: How Magellan Strategies undermined credibility of pollsters and the press

In a seemingly coordinated effort to coincide with Colorado Democrats unveiling their “Red Flag” Gun Confiscation bill Thursday, Pollster Magellan Strategies released a Survey of Republican Voters in Colorado designed to allow reporters to run with a misleading headline that the bill enjoys bipartisan support.

The poll concluded back on February 4th, but was not released until the morning House Majority Leader Alec Garnett introduced the “Red Flag” bill on February 14th.

According to results of the poll, sixty percent of Republicans responded in favor, and thirty three percent unfavorable.

“This is a classic example of a poll designed to obtain a desired result,” said Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Executive Director Dudley Brown.

Specifically, Magellan asked a doctored question heavily implying the “Red Flag” bill includes protections for the due process of accused of gun owners, when it does not.

Here is the question:

During the state legislative session last year, a bill was introduced called the Red Flag law. The red flag law allows a judge to take guns temporarily from someone who is determined to be a significant risk to themselves or others, based on evidence presented to the judge. Knowing this information do you support or oppose the red flag law?

The Question Misrepresents the Red Flag Bill:

As filed, the 2019 “Red Flag” bill provides no such protections for gun owners. In fact, the ex parte orders that would be issued by a judge would be issued without any notification to the accused at all.

While Colorado media outlets jumped at the chance to run with the study, most outlets failed to report the 2019 bill actually affords the accused less due process than the bill offered last year.

According to House Republican Leader Patrick Neville’s comments on Denver 7:

“This bill, as written now, actually requires you to prove your innocence. So first off, there’s no due process and there’s no first, initial stages because you don’t even get a chance to defend yourself. And then, after that actually occurs, then the burden of proof is actually on you to prove your innocence, and it’s just not the American way.”


The Questions Magellan Failed to Ask:

Anyone who’s operated in politics, or commissioned studies of this nature, knows that how you ask a question matters, and the way you frame the issue highly influences the results.

In order to establish credibility, it’s important to ask unbiased questions, or to poll multiple questions framed differently to avoid a biased result.

If the Magellan study could be taken seriously, they should have also polled questions like:

*** “Do you support or oppose a “Red Flag” law that allows firearms to be seized from law-abiding citizens without due process?”

*** “Do you support or oppose a “Red Flag” law that allows people to anonymously report their ex-partners or family members to the police for purposes of having their firearms confiscated?”

*** “Do you support or oppose a “Red Flag” law that would result in SWAT teams raiding the homes of law-abiding citizens for purposes of confiscating their firearms and only their firearms?”

*** Last year, a Maryland father was served with an anonymously filed “Red Flag” order by law enforcement. When he objected to his firearms being confiscated, police fatally shot him. Knowing this, would you still support a “Red Flag” law in Colorado?”

All of these statements are true about “Red Flag” laws, but none were asked by the Magellan study

Instead, their study enabled Democrats and the media to run with a misleading headline claiming the proposed gun confiscation law is supported by Republicans.

“Magellan Strategies should be ashamed they allowed themselves to be used to further the radical anti-gun agenda of some Colorado Democrats,” said Dudley Brown, “This is why people don’t trust the news or pollsters.”

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