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 8/27**:
Last night I figured it out. Obama's chart endures an exact hit from Neptune. Neptune at best offers inspiration, hope and elevation of the human spirit. On its downside, Neptune renders propaganda, misinformation, deception and lies, worry and fear. Also, Neptune works with association, proximity and reputation.
Obama's not even at the DNC yet. Nor is McCain. Curiously both have risen in the polls this week. Some polls claim Obama leads. Some call a virtual tie. Others claim McCain is up big. The polls sense the reactions of the people who react to the stream of the feed provided by the media. Since Neptune spawns imaginary speculation, I can't wait until they both go above 50%.
So what's up with the media? CNN persists in accusing the DNC of lacking clarity. Some MSNBC folks bait those who have worked with the Clintons to promise upstaging and usurping by Hillary and Bill. Fox is... well Fox... promoting the idea that the DNC will appoint Hillary VP. Such speculation falls under the administration of Neptune, Department of Hype, Embellishment and Worry.
McCain supporters work to swift boat Obama. McCain's doing Neptune, too. McCain uses Hillary's words in his ads. There are rumors McCain might name his VP pick on the day of Obama's acceptance of the nomination. A grouping of planets surrounds McCain's chart, making the idea of stealing some Obama thunder irresistible. However, a man from a state where monsoons frequent this time of year might do well to keep in mind that thunder is always preceded by lightning.
It's not clear if it's in the water, cell phone radiation interference, a lack of sleep offset by energy drinks or whatever, but the media has succumbed to Neptune. Not only does the media respond to Neptune's effect on Obama's chart, there's quite a pattern involving Neptune "up there," stirring everyone's sensibilities. Given the last seven years of psychic bombardment confirming the need to fear the future, we respond like Pavlovian dogs chasing our tails whenever the slightest negative morsel seeds the psyche. These seeds drive habituated reactions back to fear, away from hope and so distortion skews the polls.
Consider Hurricane Gustav. Without absolute tracking of where it's going to go, oil prices have already risen, fearing for the oil platforms in the Gulf. Really? Is it worry about the rigs and those working them or is it hyped forecasting to permit profiting under the guise of concern? Back to reality.
I've already noted what's going to happen. Unable to shake off fear, the GOP preys upon our conditioned minds to promote more fear. Hey, now we have a possible Cold War again as well as Muslim terrorists. Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? If you don't, it was crap your pants scary.
Anyway, fear works for less than one more month. It takes people time to wrap around new consciousness. As they do, GOP ratings falter followed by a contrived October surprise. Then we vote with hope and inspiration for a change.
Instead of fearing if Bill would outdo Biden or if Hillary would stake her claim, flow with the inspiration. Hillary's a Scorpio and the media sold that fact short. A Scorpio always looking for the ultimate bottom line, she resurrected above any personal disappointment and went back to the bottom line. Like a Phoenix she reemerged powerful, persuasive and promising a better tomorrow if people can shed the shadows of the last two administrations and dare to dream again. Kind of ironic that she did the Phoenix thing so well in the face of a Phoenician.
Since we're so media dependent, how about some movies? Voting homework of sorts. Between conventions rent and watch Bob Roberts, The Fog of War and The Girl in the Café. Let us restore truth, insightful interactions and hopefulness for humanity.
I did some poll research of my own. A Harris poll reported 31% of Americans believe in astrology; of those 36% are women. Gallup results once noted that 22% of Americans believe in astrology. A Fox Poll indicated that 29% of Americans believe in astrology. In that group, Democrats lead Republicans in astrological belief by 14 points. It is evident from the tone of comments received to this post most have come from American Republican Men. Go figure. Relax guys. Neither my polling of the planets nor what I write matter. It's up to you. How will you deal with Neptune? Will you vote for fear? Or dare you vote for hope?
POLLING METHODOLOGY: ***New Polls Added, 8/20 5 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 9-August 11
Results: Obama 47%, McCain 42%
Method:2,656 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 11-August 13
Results: Obama 43%, McCain 42%
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).
|Mccain vs obama in the General election|
VIRGO August 29, 1936
The spirit of co-operation could be revived - if only you could get certain work colleagues to concentrate on the job in hand. Contact with the healing profession is likely - you might also make good friends with someone who's about to be given a double work-load but might not yet have realised what they've agreed to. Calming someone whose nerves are shattered might also be necessary.
LEO August 4, 1961
The way that others process information could be a source of amusement - yet you might instinctively know that it's better not to laugh. In reaching a decision, you may need to sift through options slowly - and might not even arrive at a conclusion until tomorrow. A tax bill or arrangement to place a deposit could involve you with extra paper-work or phone calls to a bank.
Sunny with gusty winds. Warm. High 82F. Winds NNW at 15 to 25 mph.
A mainly sunny sky. High 88F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.
Mostly sunny skies with gusty winds. Hot. High 93F. Winds S at 20 to 30 mph.
Sunshine and clouds mixed. High 71F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
General Election Poll: Gallup Daily Tracking
For the Gallup Poll Daily tracking survey, Gallup is interviewing no fewer than 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide each day during 2008.
The general-election results are based on combined data from Aug. 24-26, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,724 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets