Polls have come to dominate the media's horse race coverage of political campaigns. Pundits and reporters constantly use them to tell us who's hot and who's not -- but skip over the fact that plummeting response rates and variables like undecided voters and margins of error often render these polls useless as anything other than lightweight diversions on par with horoscopes and political betting lines. Below you'll find a slew of polling, astrological, and betting information that will hopefully help the polling junkies in the media keep polls in the proper perspective.
We've also updated HuffPollstrology to bring you regular takes from astrologers on the state of the presidential race. And we've included a section that digs deeper into how polls are conducted. And to make sure we're really investigating, we're going to add various blogs and articles that cast a skeptical eye on polling. Read on for lots of HuffPollstrology:
ASTROLOGER PHILIP SEDGWICK LOOKS AT THE CANDIDATES - **NEW POST**:
The campaigns say one thing about the candidates. But does astrology say something else? Read my esteemed colleague Philip Sedgwick's take on McCain and Obama's birthchart. Find out who's really winning despite what the polls suggest - Astrologer Phyllis Mitz
Last week both McCain and Obama took personal hits to their horoscopes from the planet of action, drive and momentum, Mars, who occupied the ever so discerning (and critical) Virgo. Both lost a little expected ground. Obama was criticized for failing to have a comprehensive energy plan. McCain was judged for not having a clue. As Mars made contact with a new planetary influence, both candidates were obscured by John Edwards, the Olympics and the Russian-Georgian war. Obama took the Mars transit for a week in Hawaii. While not good for the polls, astrologers would sanction such a move.
Remember back in 2004 when early exit polls indicated Kerry, Kerry, Kerry? Barring the likely introduction of a credible conspiracy theory about another stolen election, the polls failed. Presently, we have a heap of planets in the hair splitting detail-obsessed Virgo. The polls gain a ludicrous tone as they specify overly detailed factors. I'm not trying to take away the livelihood of pollsters, but the category "women age 25 to 35 for Obama who wear flip flops in Starbucks" was a bit over the top. Uh, maybe I dreamt that; I'm too loaded with poll facts to be sure. What I do know is "flip flops" should not be used in any poll.
Consider how astrologers see it. We know the planets now are not in the places they shall be on November 4th. The energy, mood and priorities will be different then than now. Presently, we see load of planets in Virgo. That's now. On November 4th, it's different. Only the hard core "I want a stable life" planet Saturn remains in Virgo. The rest have moved on but not before tangling speculation in a mire of details, campaign facts, distortions and spin.
On Election Day, Mars occupies his own sign, Scorpio. Mars represents pulling the trigger and primal issues regarding the protection of one's territory. As a voter pulls the trigger, the underscoring influence will be guided by gut level reactions to which candidate truly protects their interests.
In the 2000 and 2004 elections Mars traveled through Libra on Election Day. The Republicans successfully wove the hostile energy, aggressive theme of Mars with the socially conscious sign of Libra that just aches to fit in. "I am a uniter not a divider" and "If you're not one of us, you're one of them." This month Mars enters Libra for roughly six weeks. You can expect an extended replay of this theme by McCain and the GOP. You can expect to polls to slant more in McCain's favor as a result, narrowing the gap. Mars changes signs in the first week of October. To preserve their chances, the incumbent party must go after more severe psychic manipulations to sway the polls and win the vote.
This is one of the reasons astrologers are reluctant to place their bets on the winning candidate. Hell, I predicted Gore and Kerry winners in 2000 and 2004. In those contests and to my surprise the previously unknown planets Chad and Diebold created difficult aspects to Mercury, the planet of tally and count. Many astrologers anticipate an unforeseen and conjured event with the ability to dramatically change the momentum of the election. Personally, I see two of these. One is likely around September 12th when an economic patch, cleverly applied by the President or an emergency act of economic reform introduced by a Republican can better McCain's sliding chances. More seriously, patterns late in October and another on November 3rd imply the promise of international hostilities that could lean voters to the more hawkish candidate. Astrological influences note that such threats contain the same level of credibility as did the presence of WMD's in Iraq. Still, the mask at Halloween can be scary. And if scary enough to distort a person's sense of personal security, all bets are off.
While I have my pick, I am reluctant to announce it until the polls close in Hawaii (kidding). I prefer to see what tricks lie ahead and then I'll apply some astrology to evaporate the mirage.
To make my pick I used the same principle I use in World Series forecasting: I set a chart for the end of the event, poll closing in Hawaii, and from that, the indicators clearly report who comes out on top: looks like Obama. Don't bet with me, though. I picked Gore and Kerry as winners.
POLLING METHODOLOGY:***New Polls Added, 8/12 2 PM***
HuffPost is delving into the gray area of how polls are conducted. Below is an analysis of how pollsters come up with the numbers through response rates. The definition of a response rate is taken from Arianna's 1998 column "Investigating The Pollsters."
The key to polling's accuracy is the principle of "equal probability of selection." But if larger and larger numbers among those randomly selected refuse to participate, this principle no longer applies.
We asked polling companies to please give us the response and refusal rates for their polls listed below.
AP/Ipsos Poll Conducted July 31-August 4
Results: Obama 47%, McCain 41%
Method: Random sample of 1,002 adults across the country over five days. 833 were registered voters.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?":
Ipsos representative: "As far as I know we don't publish response and refusal rates...We conducted the poll for the Associated Press, you'd have to ask them about releasing the response and refusal rates."
Associated Press representative: "We don't have them here from Ipsos. It takes a little while for them to get those to us...I can ask them. It shouldn't take too long, but normally it takes a few days...They're not secret or anything."
Gallup Daily Poll Conducted August 6-August 8
Results: Obama 47%, McCain 42%
Method:2,686 registered voters polled over three days.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": 14% response rate, 26% refusal rate. This is an average rate for this particular series of polls, technically defined as the CASRO rate which is similar to the AAPOR-III response rate (these definitions can be found here).
The Economist/YouGov Poll Full Conducted August 4-August 6
Results: Obama 42%, McCain 39%
Method:Emailed panel of 1,000 adults.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A representative for YouGov wrote, "A reasonable approximation for the response rate on the Economist wave of August 4-6 would be 43%. The opt-out rate from our mailings was .4% (my best guess at a comparable statistic to refusal)." Another representative noted that due to the unique method of collecting data for this poll, the response rate is not comparable to those of other phone-based polls.
Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll Conducted August 9-August 11
Results: Obama 45%, McCain 43%
Method: Sample of 3,000 likely voters over three days.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A representative for Rasmussen told us, "We don't give out that information".
CBS News Poll Conducted
July 31-August 5
Results: Obama 45%, McCain 39% Method: Polled 1,034 --of that, 906 were registered voters. "Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": Response rate -- 11.51%, refusal rate -- 26.54%. Both are according to the American Association for Public Opinion Research's definition of Response Rate 1 and Refusal Rate 1 (both of which can be found in this PDF).
THE LATEST POLLS, WEATHER, ASTROLOGICAL POSTINGS AND BETTING LINES ON THE CANDIDATES:
For you, today marks an interesting stage of an important 30-month cycle which began in October 2007. First though it might seem to you as though you've 'arrived at the full stop at the end of a sentence'. In other words, perhaps you need to rest. You might also need to listen carefully to what other people have to say. Their thoughts on the future could differ slightly from yours. Value for money could be a big theme - as could a much-loved toy - which might even be the subject of some dispute.
Slowly it may be dawning on you that you need to take a completely different attitude to finances. It may be necessary to put yet another budget into place. This time, the focus of activity could be on having funds ready to explore a relationship or to please someone at a later date. Gift shopping is possible. It's perhaps more likely that you will be in planning mode. Someone from an older generation might require your assistance with an old bicycle or car which they need to decide to repair or replace.
High 84F. 40% Chance of Rain.
High 73F. 40% Chance of Rain
High 80F. Chance of rain 20%.
High 85F. 0% Chance Of Rain.
General Election Poll: Gallup Daily Tracking
The general-election results are based on combined data from Aug. 9-11, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,656 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets