- The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Public unease has become a staple of 2020 — year of the pandemic, the election and social unrest. Political strife has intensified, as have mixed feelings over social changes, family burdens and economic impacts. New academic research also pinpoints a specific shift from those who are on the true coronavirus front lines.

“When the coronavirus hit American shores, nurses and doctors stocked up on guns, a new study reports,” writes Stephen Gutowski, a Washington Free Beacon analyst.


“Researchers at New Mexico State University and the University of Toledo found that being a health care provider was one of the strongest predictors of buying a firearm during the first few weeks of the coronavirus pandemic. Sixty-seven percent of people who reported buying a gun during the pandemic also reported being health care professionals,” Mr. Gutowski said.

He is referring to a survey of 1,432 U.S. adults in 30 different categories which spanned age, gender, education, profession and other demographics. The wide-ranging survey was conducted in late May and released Oct. 21 and specifically inquired about the respondents’ decision to buy — or not to buy — a gun during the coronavirus pandemic.

A fifth of the respondents reported they had bought a firearm as the pandemic continued — most citing a concern for “protection of self and family.”

Why were two-thirds of the reported gun purchasers doctors, nurses, physicians assistants and other health care providers? The researchers suggest that their personal experiences in recent months could play a role in that decision.

“These are people who are civilians, who are not criminals, and they have seen a lot of unrest in the past six months,” study author New Mexico State University professor Jagdish Khubchandani told the Beacon.

“What matters is, have you been threatened? Have you been exposed to violence? Do you know someone who was threatened, and therefore, by default, does that make you a little more protective about your own self and your family?” he asked.

A local Fox News affiliate also investigated the phenomenon.

“We were having doctors, nurses — you name it — coming in, and they wanted guns,” Emily Atkinson, owner of Ade’s Gun Shop in California, told Fox 11 Los Angeles this month.

FOR THE LEXICON

“October Suppress.”

You’ve heard of the “October surprise,” a last-minute political maneuver meant to damage a candidate’s campaign. Now comes an extension of that idea, suggested by syndicated talk radio host Chris Plante, who cites the media’s strategic omissions of material that could mar Democrat Joseph R. Biden’s presidential campaign.

News organizations skim over reported business dealings within the Biden family, and other matters. Positive news about President Trump is simply not reported.

Thus, voters are now under the influence of an “October suppress,” Mr. Plante says.

HOPE AND CHANGE OF A DIFFERENT KIND

Google keeps careful track of what public searches are the most popular at any given time.

“Can I change my vote” has been spiking as a popular topic this week — and as many analysts have now noted — the surge coincided with press reports about the aforementioned Biden family business dealings. It is of note that 59 million people have already voted; some, perhaps, have buyer’s remorse.

“The increase is dramatic. Google normalizes the number so a value of 100 indicates peak interest in the term. Back in 2016, the normalized value peaked at a level of 31 at the same number of days before Election Day, which was Nov. 8. Based on those numbers, there is nearly a 225% increase in 2020 for “Can I change my vote” compared to 2016,” writes Nate Ashworth, founder of Election Central.

President Trump has also noticed the new interest in vote changing, advising “Go do it” in a tweet.

“According to Google Trends data, searches for ‘can I change my vote?’ have skyrocketed over the last few days. And those searches are usually linked to searches for Hunter Biden,” talk-radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh told his 14 million listeners Wednesday.

WINNING BY INCREMENTS

President Trump now has a 1-point lead over Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden, 48% to 47% among likely voters, says a new Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,500 likely voters conducted Oct. 22-26.

“On the last Wednesday before Election Day in 2016, Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton were tied at 44% apiece in Rasmussen Reports’ daily White House Watch,” the pollster noted.

STICKER ENVY

The “I Voted” lapel sticker is a cultural icon and a source of pride among many Americans. In the age of mail-in and early voting, many jurisdictions are running short of them.

“The paucity of these badges has not gone unnoticed by enterprising entrepreneurs. Online marketplaces like Zazzle, Redbubble, Opentip and Wish are all selling rolls of ‘I Voted’ stickers, with variants including ‘I Voted Early,’ ‘I Voted by Mail’ and ‘I Wanted People to Know I Voted by Mail so I Printed Out This Sticker.’ Now comes the Krispy Kreme doughnut chain, which just announced that it, too, is here to combat the dearth of stickers,” reports AdWeek.

On Election Day, voters can stop in at a participating Krispy Kreme shop and get a free glazed donut and an “I Voted” sticker.

“With so many people voting early, the increase in mail-in voting and safety restrictions at polling due to the pandemic, we noticed Americans weren’t getting access to this sticker. Some polling places were replacing stickers with pens, and others weren’t offering any replacement for the coveted sticker at all. We wanted to do what we do best and bring joy to consumers on Election Day,” Dave Skena, chief marketing officer of the famous franchise, told Ad Week.

POLL DU JOUR

38% of U.S. adults have already gotten their standard flu shot.

30% of this group say the COVID-19 pandemic influenced their decision to get one.

37% overall say they will not get a flu shot this year.

20% of this group say the pandemic influenced their decision.

25% overall say they have not gotten a flu shot but plan to get one.

42% of this group say the pandemic influenced their decision.

Source: A Morning Consult poll of 2,199 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 23-25.

• Helpful information to jharper@washingtontimes.com


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