CPAC Survey Claims Conservatives Hate Adelson’s Crony Capitalism, RAWA

In the news in recent days are the results of a Tea Party-aligned survey, taken at the recent 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), claiming to show that the staunchly-conservative CPAC attendees, as a collective body, are dead-set against the ongoing efforts of multi-billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson to block virtually all forms of online gambling in the United States at the federal level.

If the survey results issued by CPAC participant Institute for Liberty can be believed, conservatives hate Adelson’s fevered RAWA (Restoration of America’s Wire Act) dreams ever bit as much as non-nanny-state liberals do.

The Institute for Liberty’s survey results were released late last month, though there are some unanswered questions about the effort.  Then, about a week ago, the influential DC-based “The Hill” blog picked up the IFL release and ran with it, and a handful of simple rewrites of the presser have appeared in a few poker outlets ever since.

Let’s start with the basics, the better to highlight one bad apple in a barrel of goodness.  Here’s the text of the brief presser that the IFL issued:

Institute for Liberty Poll Finds CPAC Attendees Rejects Crony Effort to Federalize Gaming Laws

A poll commissioned by the Institute for Liberty at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) found that by extraordinarily large numbers, conservative activists broadly reject efforts by Las Vegas casino owner Sheldon Adelson and his allies in Congress to federalize the regulation of online gambling.

By a 91% to 9% margin, attendees at the largest conservative conference in the world said they oppose attempts by some in Congress to ban state-regulated online gaming.

By an 88% to 12% margin, attendees also agreed that the legislation known as RAWA (Restoration of America’s Wire Act), the bill that would bar states from legislating the use of online gaming and selling lottery tickets online, is a violation of the Tenth Amendment and an example of crony capitalism. The bill has also been criticized as a danger to the Second Amendment as it would establish a dangerous precedent against states’ rights that would help those seeking to ban the sale on online ammunition.

The poll was conducted over the course of the four-day conference that was held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbour, Maryland.

Andrew Langer, the President of the Institute for Liberty, said that the results confirm that conservative activists reject RAWA for what it is – a corporate giveaway and a breach of the Bill of Rights.

“Conservatives see RAWA for what it is – one of the worst forms of crony capitalism in Congress today. RAWA is nothing short of an effort by one of the richest men in the world to ban a form of competition for his brick and mortar casino empire – and everyone knows it,” Langer said. “Worse yet, he is even willing to trample on the Constitution to do it.”

RAWA was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in the Senate and by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) in the House of Representatives. The bill has been sold as a means of stopping the proliferation of online gambling, but only targets states like New Jersey and Delaware that have legalized online gaming for their residents. The legislation also prohibits states like Georgia and Illinois from selling lottery tickets online.

The Institute for Liberty has been a leading critic of the legislation, joining organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Conservative Union in warning legislators about the dangers of the Adelson power grab. The Institute for Liberty hosted a forum at CPAC educating attendees about the dangers of the legislation.

“The Leadership of both houses of Congress should know that rank and file conservative voters reject the crony RAWA bill and will defend the Constitution from this Vegas-purchased onslaught on liberty,” Langer added. “We will be vigilant opposing this bill.”

Okay, good enough, and online poker players and freedom supporters should be happy about this poll and the presumption that most conservatives are against Adelson’s and Las Vegas Sands’ crony capitalism efforts.  Since the RAWA bills of the last few years have been introduced and sponsored by a high proportion of conservatives, as compared to liberals, such anti-Adelson support is a welcome sight.

But, ummm, methodology….

In a sentence, there isn’t any, neither offered within the IFL’s anti-RAWA presser nor anywhere on the group’s site.  So these supposed results exist in something of a vacuum: We don’t know how many respondents actually participated nor how leading the questions were.

With anti-RAWA results of 91-9 and 88-12 (percent) on whatever the two questions asked were, one can safely assume that the questions were indeed heavily leaning and designed to support the IFL’s already stated position, along with that of survey partners Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Conservative Union.  One could barely ask what color an orange is and get “orange” as a survey response with that degree of favorability, especially when surveying a room full of career lobbyists and politicians.  If it smells like an orange, maybe it’s just a tangelo, after all.

So, there’s a reason to accept the IFL’s survey results rather softly, good intent or not.  Scrape off the fancy wrapping, and it may well be garbage underneath.  It shouldn’t matter that it’s our side’s garbage, nor that the effort to combat Adelson’s truly evil efforts is a good cause.  In this information-heavy, post-factual age, one can never quite be sure what the daily news will bring.


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