NEW YORK—It's not a scientific poll by any means, but of the just over 22,000 votes that were cast as of 7:23pm Pacific time in response to the question on MSNBC.com—"Do we need tougher enforcement of laws regulating hardcore porn?"—a resounding majority sent some really bad news to Rick Santorum.
The poll and the article that precedes it—"Porn industry to Rick Santorum: Butt out"—are only a few hours old, but seem to be getting good traffic, with the poll updating constantly. Despite that level of activity, the percentage break-down has remained pretty consistent, starting to shift slightly right only in the last hour.
In our most recent snapshot, it was:
No—76.2 percent (17,022 votes)
Yes—19.7 percent (4,394 votes)
Not Sure—4.2 percent (932 votes)
The reason this poll even happened is because Rick Santorum has been doing much better in the Republican Presidential campaign, which means his positions on issues have been getting more media scrutiny. That's what happened here, with the last item listed on his website's Where I Stand page, titled "Enforcing Laws Against Illegal Pornography."
TheDailyCaller.com noticed it and published an article on March 14 written by associate editor Steven Nelson, who spoke with two high-profile law professors, Eugene Volokh and Jonathan Turley.
That instigated a slew of other articles on the subject, including the MSNBC.com article by James Eng, who spoke with Hustler founder and publisher Larry Flynt and Vivid Entertainment founder and co-chairman Steven Hirsch.
“You have guys like Santorum come along and they bring out the bogeyman every chance they get,” Flynt told Eng. "You will be hard-pressed to find anyone that can point out to you a study that shows harm is caused to anyone exposed to porn materials."
“I find it ironic that Republicans (like Santorum) are out there wanting less government and government intruding into our lives, but when it comes to moral issues they want government to legislate morality," said Hirsch. "It doesn’t work. It will never work.”
Hirsch also told him a crackdown by the Justice Department would not work.
“We’ve seen that before," he said. "John Ashcroft was that guy. Edwin Meese was that guy. They can prosecute but ultimately it’s juries that decide what is and isn’t obscene. Over last 20 years there have been very, very few obscenity convictions.”
He also suggested a compromise of sorts: “We will stay out of his church, and he will stay out of our bedrooms."
Still, it was the poll that really got our attention. Even assuming that most MSNBC.com readers lean left, or that any Santorum-related issue might garner a 75+ percent disapproval rating on the site, the fact remains that porn is not usually a partisan playground. People who like it (and work in it) represent the spectrum of political views, and the same can be said of those who hate it.
Therefore, assuming they are even remotely accurate, it's hard to see the results of this still live poll as anything but discouraging news for the few porn crusaders that remain at the DoJ, and certainly for Rick Santorum, who, if he were to win the nomination and the election, would definitely be held to this particular promise by his base, a prospect that probably even he is kind of dreading.
It is exactly 10am Saturday morning in Los Angeles and 95,249 votes have been cast in the MSNBC.com poll, with a stubborn majority still taking the position that we do NOT need tougher enforcement of laws regulating hardcore porn.
No—73.9 percent (70,409 votes)
Yes—21.5 percent (20,499 votes)
Not Sure—4.6 percent (4,341 votes)