Survey says… less than you think

Just before Christmas, my town hall sent out a survey to its citizens. The first question read, “Are you proud to live in Stanstead? Yes or No.” Well, that stopped me right there. Am I proud? That’s a pretty bold emotion. Content? Sure. Proud? I don’t know. Is living in Stanstead the fulfillment of a lifelong dream? No. Do I wake every morning, look out the window and go, “Yes!” No. Am I occasionally peeved at my town, especially when the compost truck doesn’t come by as scheduled? Yes.

I’m not not proud, yet I couldn’t honestly bring myself to check “yes.”

Of the 86 percent of respondents who did check “yes,” I wonder how many did so with a shrug. As for the 14 percent who said, no, they weren’t proud to live in Stanstead, I say, “Love it or leave it, haters!”

This, then, is the problem with surveys.  The results are given with such statistical firmness, yet how many of those answers were made by people who were unsure or confused or drunk?

Let me tell you, people: I am one of those people. I’ve been known to be all three of those people.



Imagine the following survey question: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper would make the ideal date for Valentine’s Day: do you a) strongly disagree b) somewhat disagree c) somewhat agree or d) strongly agree?”

Well, that depends. Is it a first date? Because Valentine’s Day is too much pressure for a first date. Have Stephen Harper and I been dating for a while? If so, I think we would have a lovely Valentine’s evening. We’d probably stay in, have a little dinner of Alberta beef, or maybe Chinese, probably lots of Chinese. Then we’d sit at desks for a while, because I know from those photos the PM posted on Twitter that he really likes sitting at desks. And I’d ask him questions about his life, and he’d avoid answering them, and I would say, “Don’t make me go through Access to Information!” and he’d laugh and delay my request for 30 days and then another 30 days and so on.

I had those glasses too.

I had those glasses too.

Later, we’d Google pictures of Bob Rae in high school and make fun of him, until eventually Stephen would open up and tell me how he wishes he could have an inaugural ball and he could willfully assassinate domestic terror suspects. And who knows where the night would go from there…?

Sorry, where was I?

Oh yes, the survey question. Given the options, I’d probably answer “somewhat disagree,” which isn’t my true answer – my true answer being “Follow your heart, not your caucus” – but it’s the best option available. Such ambivalent answers, though, could affect policy and deny the prime minister a delightful hypothetical Valentine’s date. Sorry, Stephen. I know: it’s just like Grade 3 all over again…

Besides being undecided,  how many people answer surveys without clear knowledge of the issue? I heard on the weekend, for instance, that only a third of Canadians support providing humanitarian aid to Mali. What they don’t tell you is that 53 percent of those polled thought Mali was one of the counties in southwestern Nova Scotia that got clobbered by the snowstorm and felt we already give too much aid to those deadbeat Malitimers.

The survey-makers will tell you that their results are 96 percent accurate within three percentage points, which sounds good (I guess) until you realize that the people claiming the survey-makers are accurate are the survey-makers themselves, which is like me telling you that 96 percent of the time I am breathtakingly handsome, a fact I can prove because I said so.

So, back to my town survey. Because I couldn’t honestly answer that first question about being proud to live in Stanstead, I ended up not answering the survey at all. So if I inadvertently caused my fellow citizens’ taxes to go up by not answering the question about whether I was in favour of opposing not funding salary increases for councillors as well as the construction of the Stephen Harper Centre for Getting Tough on Crime and Romance, I do apologize for the oversight.

Originally aired on CBC Radio “Breakaway” on February 12, 2013. You can hear the original rambling here. It helps if you follow Canadian politics. Sorry, rest of the world….

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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47 Responses to Survey says… less than you think

  1. javaj240 says:

    Hysterical, as always. Thanks for helping me to start my day off properly. 🙂

  2. El Guapo says:

    Nice thing about surveys is you can bend the questions to get whatever answer you want.

    I heard Harper wass kind of grabby (especially when reviewing petitions).

  3. denmother says:

    Survey says…… Stephen Harper with Bob Rae’s glasses. There’s the fantasy date, right there. However, as you astutely point out, no survey’s going to give me that option. Lose-lose for everyone:-(

  4. Amanda Fox says:

    I love the idea of you dating Stephen Harper. I don’t know that I could, but at least he likes cats. BTW, loved listening to this. It takes it to a whole other level. 🙂

  5. I love surveys like that. I got a phone one that asked, “Do you believe politicians should be held to the same laws as other citizens?” Rather than hang up, I pressed 1, sure, yeah, I do. “Thank you for answering yes, that you believe that OBAMA SHOULD BE IMPEACHED TO STOP HIM FROM CONTINUING TO FINANCE HIS ISLAMIC JIHAD AGAINST THE UNITED STATES AND–”

    Ah, damn it… click.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Ha! The best part is I can’t be sure whether you’re kidding.

      • I’m not. I got on some bizarro phone list. I endured it for the election because it was entertaining and I wanted to hear what actual human beings believed, to help understand what’s happening to the US. After the election the calls KEPT COMING. It was jaw dropping. “On election day patriotic Americans like you watched helplessly as the lazy and parasitic voted for 4 more years of welfare handouts…”

        • rossmurray1 says:

          “Extremism in the defense of liberty is not nice.” — smug Canadians

          Actually, we can’t be too smug anymore, what with the Conservatives ruling the roost. But thanks for being the greatest reality show on earth, neighbour!

  6. Karen says:

    I feel we should launch a rescue mission to save that poor little ginger kitten. No one should have to be Dear Leader’s prop. Er, cat.

  7. What’s with Stephen Harper and the kitten? I see it referenced a lot … I love cats, but that’s disconcerting.
    Is he going to eat it?
    A) Strongly Agree B) Agree C) Unsure D) Disagree E) Strongly Disagree F) I like a special channel

    Make it into Canadian content and put it on TV?
    A) Strongly Agree B) 3/4 Agree C) Unsure D) 11/32 Disagree E) Strongly Disagree F) Funicular

    I laugh because I’m one of those people that has to contend with survey data results – and the crunching… and I HATE it when people write in their own answers and assign it a letter – as if I can do anything with it but laugh derisively about them.

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