What is Your Definition of "Easily" and "Overwhelmingly"?

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On the homepage of Robbins Sce Research, it says:

“Harper popular as PM, Canadians easily support Afghan extension. Jun 29, 2007”

The poll it links to says Canadians support an Afghan extension based on this question:

“The United Nations is desirous of having Canada extend its participation in Afghanistan past the current term ending in early 2009. Are you agreeable to extending Canada’s involvement?”
Yes 52 %
No 48 %

I have a hard time seeing how 52-48 “easily” supports anything. Plus, every other poll I’ve seen in the last several weeks has support for Afghanistan about split.

But then it gets worse. On the commentary of that poll it says:

“Canadians overwhelmingly support an extension to Canada’s participation in Afghanistan.”



And then the commentary continues:

“The PM may want to change his Defense Minister. ROBBINS likes current Conservative House Leader Van Loan for the job. Although non-descript, he is excellent in the House of Commons and can articulate a reconfigured Canadian involvement in Afghanistan.”

How is this unbiased polling? The first thing that popped into my head is that the third sponsor of this poll, requesting anonymity, is Van Loan.

So, what do you think they mean by “easily” and “overwhelmingly”?

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Post-partisan eco-socialist. at Politics, Re-Spun
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, professor, speaker, consultant, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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12 thoughts on “What is Your Definition of "Easily" and "Overwhelmingly"?”

  1. On another poll, the end of the commentary includes this:

    “ROBBINS has an ability like no other polling firm to understand the relationship between news events, and public reaction to these and to the reality of their daily existence. For some time now we have taken exception to what we believe is the growing gulf between the proper and relevant attention paid by establishment news to the details of political business and the fair and reasonable communication of this to the public.”

    “fair and reasonable” are interesting words that are not supported by “easily” and “overwhelmingly” in their other poll.

  2. Ahhh Robbins SCE.


    Don’t get us all started on Robbins SCE.

    This guy’s best ignored. Poke around Google for the scoops, but trust me. Not worth the time to worry about.

    Robbins SCE.


  3. Ahhh Robbins SCE.


    Don’t get us all started on Robbins SCE.

    This guy’s best ignored. Poke around Google for the scoops, but trust me. Not worth the time to worry about.

    Robbins SCE.


  4. Ahhh Robbins SCE.


    Don’t get us all started on Robbins SCE.

    This guy’s best ignored. Poke around Google for the scoops, but trust me. Not worth the time to worry about.

    Robbins SCE.


  5. ok, you can’t leave it at that!

    gimme a tidbit at least. the “commentary” spin indicates that i wouldn’t trust their polling methodology, so everything is suspect.

    so ya, i want to get you started on them…just a tidbit. 🙂



  6. Your ‘rendition’ of the Afghan ROBBINS poll was dishonest, if an omission is so-(GPR)

    Currently, the Canadian military operates as a conventional military force and as a participant in the development of Afghan institutions and infrastructure. Would you prefer to see Canadian tax dollars allocated to?

    Defeating the Taliban 30 %
    Developing Afghan institutions and infrastructure 47.5 % (Total 77.5-with humanitarian)
    I don’t want to spend any money on Afghanistan 23.5 %

    To comment on a poll, you need to understand them. Van Loan does not have a military background-see relationship to Dutch negotiations.

  7. well, i don’t accept your definition of dishonest, even if by omission.

    your tax dollar allocation information is very interesting, but not relevant at all to my criticism because it doesn’t talk about an extension beyond February 2009, but what we ought to do with the money we ARE spending there. the question about how we spend our money there cannot be interpreted as saying we want to be there past 2009.

    “Canadians easily support Afghan extension” in your headline talks about extending the Afghan mission and relates to the question…get this…that actually talks about an extension.

    my Van Loan comment was facetious. i don’t care about him very much at all. and which “Dutch negotiations” are you talking about?

    in the end, you’ve demonstrated that you do not even understand YOUR poll if you think a tax dollar allocation question justifies a conclusion that Canadians which to extend the mission, despite the non-overwhelming nature of the result of THAT question.

  8. a new wrinkle on my disagreement with the ROBBINS poll commentary [sic] comes as he updated his poll commentary page at http://www.robbinssceresearch.com/polls/poll_395.html to include my original post. then he took some shots at me some more. it is now just getting entertainingly funny. i now know why i was advised in a comment above to just left this fellow alone.

    his criticism of my blog piece is included below in quotes with my responses below them:

    “Here is a glaring example of what is wrong with Internet blogging:”

    i believe there is a great deal wrong with internet blogging. nothing wrong with me though 🙂 but i continue to find the ROBBINS website to be a blog much like mine, except that it has this “data” from “polls” to back up sometimes unjustified conclusions and rants and rants and rants.

    i like rants, i get on a roll myself, but i respect rants based in reality. the ROBBINS conclusions at times are far from sound.

    “A group posts a ROBBINS poll and abstracts one question out of context to the overall depiction given to the TOTAL poll (this one).”

    well, we’re a website with multiple authors, but i wrote the post. we can all tell because my name is at the bottom. the others’ posts have…get this: their names at the bottom of them.

    i’ve already noted in comments above how i disagree with ROBBINS’ logic that the other questions have anything to do with extending the mission beyond 2009. clearly, we’re talking past each other on this. i won’t belabour the pain of it all. if i can help it.

    “Note the question that is omitted. These types of bloggers are usually fronts for others, and seldom know what they are talking about.”

    i am a front for no one. i agree with him, though, that many bloggers are fronts. that sure is hard to prove though. he can always call me a liar and then try to figure out who i’m fronting for. 🙂

    i continue to lose respect for ROBBINS when he writes in his poll commentary that people who disagree with him don’t know what they are talking about. this is just getting laughable.

    “These people may know, simply based on the evidence that they conciously [sic] DID OMIT the question that would have made the CONCLUSION and the ‘spin’ in the commentary consistent with the polling data.”

    again, i reject his logic that the other questions are connected to the conclusions. of course i consciously omitted questions that did not support his conclusions.

    “Remember readers, the mainstream pollster are representing themselves as market researchers. In days of olde this meant that your political opinions were somehow tied to your income, naturally this is just olde, and certainly not relevant.”

    i agree that mainstream pollsters are often guilty that their conclusions can be biased by income. i don’t get how this applies to this case. i suppose i just don’t know what i’m talking about. 🙂

    i understand ROBBINS sees his role as a different kind of pollster. as far as i can tell on this issue, different means unsoundly connecting questions to various conclusions.

    “Obviously, if the muckraker bloggers were not conciously [sic] attempting to be dishonest they would have posted the additional question which shows that only one out of four Canadians DO NOT want to spend any money in Afghanistan.”

    i am consciously attempting to address logical flaws in his arguments. to suggest i’m intentionally being dishonest means i agree with his flow of logic but am mis-characterizing it. i’m not. i merely think his logic is flawed.

    one in four Canadians may not want to spend any money in Afghanistan. i believe that may be true. the number may actually be higher. that question, however, still says nothing about what Canadians wish to do with their money after February 2009.

    “These types of bloggers are muckrakers and exist to have their links ‘ride’ the poll.”

    thank you! one of my main goals in life is to rake the muck.

    dictionary.com: “muckrakers: Authors who specialize in exposing corruption in business, government, and elsewhere.”

    i honestly could not care less whether my blog rides his poll. i think his polls–at least this one–are highly suspect. some may be quite valid. others worry me. if anything, i believe i gain credibility by rejecting the methodology of his arguments.

    “Often the bloggers who cannot be easily tracked or served (if they present with libel) can be tracked down to a political party or associate of political party.”

    totally true; there certainly must be some bloggers who are afraid of things like their real names and being accountable to the public. he isn’t actually speaking about me, though. having already emailed this fellow from my real email address, i wonder why he suggests i’m in the ether. maybe he didn’t get the email. i sent it at 330pm on July 20th, right around when i posted my blog piece, which was actually virtually the exact email i sent him. i’ll send him this blog comment too. maybe he doesn’t check his email. 🙂

    at any rate, he certainly seems to be implying that i’m in the ether or a front. maybe i’m just inferring incorrectly. 🙂

    either way, i have two other email addresses linked from my website through which he can contact me. he has my email address, my phone number and address are in the phone book and i wrote my own blog piece. i belong to COPE in Vancouver and the BC NDP. i work for neither political party. COPE has no policy i’m aware of on Afghanistan. the NDP’s is wildly inadequate in my estimation. anyone can compare my editorial writings with NDP policy to see the gap.

    “This ‘crew’ was attempting to make ROBBINS appear to give the big high five to the war in Afghanistan, when in fact this poll was suggesting that a reconstitution of Canada’s policy in that country would need to be contemplated by the PM.”

    the ‘crew’ he is referring to, i suppose, is the list of people who have contributed to my website. none of them had anything to do with my post on the flawed poll. i honestly don’t care what his position is on Afghanistan. i just think he has flawed logic.

    “Certainly, Mr. Harper, not long after the release of this poll took a new position on Afghanistan which including [sic] suggesting that Canada may not extend past 2009 without a greater contribution from other NATO forces (like France) and others. He also said Canada would not make any new plans without the approval of Parliament.”

    yes, that’s great. nice. did Harper’s new position happen merely chronologically after his poll, or does he think that his poll caused or contributed to Harper’s policy shift? 🙂

    “If regular folk want to talk about issues in politics they need to be forthcoming.”

    well, i’m regular and forthcoming. if ROBBINS is so concerned about my legitimacy as a person/commentator, i wonder why he has not actually contacted me. i remain merely wondering that about him. wow.

    “I only cite this particular blog because it underscores how disingenous [sic] people can take away value from the debate, and not help with it.”

    i think it’s unfortunate that he feels i’m detracting from the debate. oddly, i think his flawed logic actually does that. but that’s fine, i guess.

    “This isn’t new, we simply have to be vigilant in terms of responding, because the blogger doesn’t automatically permit a response, he/she has to approve of it.”

    i welcome all responses. even responses emailed to me. hint hint. true, i moderate comments on my blog. I have never actually rejected a comment on my blog, though. and he can attest to the fact that none of his posted comments [all 1 of them] were censored or rejected at all. this is another unjustified criticism. if he actually had evidence of a comment of his that i rejected, he’d have a very good argument. instead, his argument is pathetic.

    o please, be vigilant. i think that’s the sign of a healthy democracy. and when he catches me rejecting one of his comments, he can justifiably accuse me of censorship.

    as it is, i’m considering dropping comment moderation. there doesn’t seem to be all that real a threat of 15 year old boys spamming political blogs with small penis spam. but this issue really has nothing to do with how bad his poll conclusions are. 🙂

    so, as i said, i’ll be emailing this post comment to him. maybe he’ll reply. or maybe he’ll continue to suggest i’m intentionally unreachable, a front for someone out to get him/someone, or a closet censor.

  9. ah. now i get it. this might explain why lord kitchener suggested this isn’t worth my time:

    “Glen fabricates figures that would require a small fortune to staff hundreds of professional callers in a state-of-the-art call centre, rather than his home’s single-line kitchen counter phone.”


    this may be false, but i too have wondered how he is able to poll hundreds of people, sometimes thousands and produce so many polls so frequently.

    on his website http://www.robbinssceresearch.com/ right now, there is a grand total of 9,455 people polled locally provincially and nationally about various topics since July 15th.

  10. ok, now i’m just having fun. i guess spelling errors don’t affect a poll’s credibility when it takes place over the phone. and then there’s the Iraq-9/11 bullshit.

    another ROBBINS poll:

    “Question #1
    Consider the deplorable events of September 9-11 for a moment. Now consider US foreign policy in Iraq. In your opinion is the U.S. presence in Iraq an aggressive or defensive position at this moment in time?
    Aggressive 53 %
    Defensive 47 %
    Undecided/No Opinion 11 %
    Question #2
    Consider for a moment a circumstance where American troops have left Iraq entirely. What in your opinion is the liklihood terrorists will attack the United States on its soil again?
    Very Likely 07 %
    Likely 11 %
    Unlikely 32 %
    Very Unlikely 41 %
    Undecided 09 %”

    what does the 9 of 9/11 mean if not September?

    muddling 9/11 with Iraq in a poll, intentionally[!] is hilarious and completely ridiculous.

    can someone please tell me what Saddam Hussein had to do with 9/11? 🙂

    perhaps a question directly about whether people believe there is a connection would be more useful. but then, i’m not a pollster.

  11. Is David Russel, featured on your Blog, the same David Russel with an extensive working history with BC Tourism?

  12. short answer: no. David Russell [not David Russel] has nothing to do with them as far as i know.

    long answer: why didn’t you just email me the question instead of posting it in a piece that has nothing to do with your question?

    but then you aren’t replying to my emails anyway.

    and maybe you could have contacted David Russell himself?

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