Poll: 35% blame Palin for Tucson shooting

The media focus on Sarah Palin's notorious crosshairs map does some lasting damage

By Justin Elliott
Published January 18, 2011 2:32AM (UTC)
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FILE - In a Nov. 30, 2010 file photo, Sarah Palin signs copies of her new book, "America By Heart," in Little Rock, Ark. Palin has posted a nearly eight-minute video on her Facebook page condemning those who blame political rhetoric for the Arizona shooting that gravely wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. In the video posted Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2010, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate said vigorous debates are a cherished tradition. But she said after the election, both sides find common ground, even though they disagree. (AP Photo/Brian Chilson, File) (AP)

 This new CNN poll on the Tucson mass shooting seems like bad news for Sarah Palin:

QUESTION: Overall, how much do you blame each of the following for the shooting in Arizona -- a great deal, a moderate amount, not much, or not at all?

The laws under which guns are bought and sold in this country

Great deal 30% ... Moderate amount 22% ... Not much 14% ... Not at all 33%

The use of harsh rhetoric and violent metaphors by politicians and commentators

Great deal 25% ... Moderate amount 23% ... Not much 17% ... Not at all 32%

A map on Sarah Palin's website that marked 20 congressional districts, including the district represented by the congresswoman who was shot, with an image that looked like the crosshairs of a gun

Great deal 19% ... Moderate amount 16% ... Not much 15% ... Not at all 44%

The resources available to deal with people who may be mentally ill

Great deal 41% ... Moderate amount 29% ... Not much 13% ... Not at all 15%

So a substantial minority -- 35 percent -- blame the Palin map either a great deal or a moderate amount for what happened in Tucson. 

Granted polls don't do nuance well, but that number should be 0 percent. My colleagues Steve Kornacki and Alex Pareene had a good exchange last week on whether inflammatory rhetoric on the right may have helped precipitate Jared Loughner's rampage. There's a real argument to be had. But there is simply no evidence that the Palin crosshairs map had anything to do with what Loughner did.

Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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2012 Elections Gabrielle Giffords Polling Sarah Palin War Room