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 9/15**:
With the election only weeks away, let’s go for the nuts and bolts of the candidates’ horoscopes.
Obama applied last week's transits and mounted a significantly more vocal protest against McCain's advertising campaign. With Virgo energy still applicable, the push for impeccable facts works efficiently. Did Sarah ask for earmarks or not? Did she stop in Iraq or no? What policies of Bush's has McCain opposed? Those are the questions. The Obama camp needs to know they can push back a heap harder and still maintain decorum, tact and eloquence. Over the next days, Obama's message must equal the fact checking push, given a push from the lunar nodes. Otherwise, the campaign becomes too much about the other guys. All of Obama's policies need clear articulation. All of these policies and fact check assertions need to be communicated three times over the next weeks given Mercury the messenger's motion. The debate schedule correlates with these passages to Obama's planets quite neatly. Given these efforts on Obama's part, his position in the polls restores a slowly rising wave. The gap between himself and McCain slowly closes and lost ground - not the result of mudslinging - can be regained.
Over the next days the most edgy, irritated Mars assumes a defensive posture in a hard angle to the Inuit (Alaskan) female deity Sedna. The defense of matters related to Palin rises in importance. With this mythic signature, the camp has not more than three opportunities to get it right. Should facts not be perfect by the third iteration, a sinking sensation slowly over powers the campaign. It's more than polls we're talking. Also in the next few days, McCain likely goes after his favorite underprivileged cause, bringing it to the forefront of his polices. When challenged, he must stay cool, issue no threats and deny no media exposure. Ceres to Mars brings a bit of the cut off your nose to spite your face archetype, interfering with rational sensibilities. McCain and his camp must realize Saturn, the reality guy, now is in "orb" to his Neptune, the story telling, make up fiction guy. Due to documented liberally applied embellishments, pundits and media pull out the microscopes. Can you say no slack? Impeccably accurate assertions? If so, you still slip a little, but hold a lead. If fact checks reveal fiction or the appearance of disconnection from reality, a backslide begins.
POLLING METHODOLOGY: New Polls Added 9/9
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.
Results: McCain 50%, McCain 46%
Method: 2,312 likely voters polled over two days.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A Zogby representative said, "12% of the people who received an invitation completed the Sept. 5-6 Zogby Interactive survey."
Results: McCain 49%, Obama 44%
Method: 2,733 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).
Results: Obama 48%, McCain 48%
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".
Results: McCain 46%, Obama 44% Method: 655 registered voters polled over three days. "Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A representative for CBS told us, "This CBS News Poll was a re-interview of registered voters we originally talked with August 15-19. We reached and interviewed 75% of the 8/15-19 sample."
A new relationship and a new partnership beckon (they aren't the same). The first depends on unconditional love, whereas the other is much more business-orientated. Someone's plans could affect your own timetable over the next few days. Awkwardly you could be left with one of those irritating situations where you're called upon to make a decision before you're ready.
A partnership could now be evolving. This might centre on the sale or purchase of an item. You may have spotted a bargain or be offering one. A partner or very close friend may want to discuss money or a relationship that's been uncomfortable which could have great impact on your domestic situation: causing you to think again about where you want to be in the future.
Mostly sunny skies. Warm. High 83F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph.
Mixed clouds and sun with scattered thunderstorms. High 81F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Mainly sunny. High around 75F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
A mainly sunny sky. Warm. High 81F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph.
General Election Poll: Gallup Daily
The general-election results are based on combined data from Sept. 11-13, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,787 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