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 9/18**:
With the election only weeks away, let’s go for the nuts and bolts of the candidates’ horoscopes.
Three bodies trigger the recently discovered planet Eris, goddess of discord, who had a penchant for conflict and a lust for war. These blips started on the 16th, again today (the 18th) and the strongest of the trio involves Mars, the traditional god of war, forming on the 21st. As fast as campaign chatter shifted from fluff to dialogue about serious financial matters, the attack on U. S. Embassy in Yemen in between these first two dates, Pakistan's recent promises, Iraq et al, platform talk soon shifts again to include military/defense plans.
The philosophical planet Jupiter forms a most convenient aspect of change to Obama's persona. Combined with a strong transit of Venus, known for her ways with material matters, expect a set of fiscal solutions to appear that force business as usual to make more than moderate adjustments. If listening carefully, many of the ideas make sense no matter on which side of the fence one stands. As a result, his stock rises this week and previous polling losses enter into an interval of notable recovery. The further along we proceed, distortions thrown his way fail to dent his strengthening image. On one of those recent stumps, seems he stopped in for a Teflon undercoating.
The fact-checking, detail-demanding Saturn continues border incursions on the turf of McCain's planet of spin, Neptune, which also holds sovereignty over video. Video will not be a friend. Given that the Maverick planet Uranus now aligns with the tradition, conservative base of Saturn, expect a critical assessment of progressive votes versus party line votes. Ceres to Mars renders a touch of support if applied with vehemence regarding bolstering the fate of the fundamentals - the average economically disadvantaged workers. The patterns say if you want us to ride your wave of hope for the economy, we want you to provide work surfboards from which we know we will not fall. It's a very tough go for the McCain camp until the election. More long term, heavy duty planet patterns apply to his chart than Obama's, until oddly a few weeks after the election.
POLLING METHODOLOGY: New Polls Added 9/18
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 48%, Obama 45%
Method: 1200 likely voters polled over two days.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": An ARG representative said," For the nationwide survey conducted September 13-15: Total adults contacted: 5,431 -- Total adults screened: 2,019* --Total failing screen or dropping out: 819 -- Total sample size: 1,200 -- * Some adults screened themselves out prior to the actual screen (e.g., not registered to vote, not planning to vote).
Results: McCain 45%, Obama 47%
Method: 2,787 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: Obama 43%, McCain 45%
Method: Emailed panel of 1,000 adults.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A YouGov/Polimetrix representative told The Huffington Post that the response rate was 41%, but also noted that because of the unique method for polling this number is not comparable to other, telephone-based polls and that no refusal rate was available .
Results: McCain 44%, Obama 49% Method: 712 likely voters polled over five days. "Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A representative for CBS told us, "As usual, using the AAPOR Standard Definitions: Response Rate 1 - 11.37%, Refusal Rate 1 - 23.23%." Those definitions can be found in this PDF.
Papers and documents could be driving you crazy. On the one hand you might be enjoying seeing things happen and being with someone who's keen to learn more. This could be testing the minimalist in you though - and you may be tempted to have a bonfire. At another level, it could be you that's contributing to the chaos with umpteen shopping bags and post-shopping blues. Friends may leave you at a loss for words. Someone's passion could have you mesmerized. Plans to regenerate an area could change yet again. This time, more focus could be given to costs.
The need to 'shoot the breeze' could be overwhelming. True, you may have loads to tell others (and possibly a little to show off). It's as likely that you need to hear what others have been up to - and what plans they have. In particular you might need to know about their travel plans. Could this be connected to where you're going to be living, or might you be going to share journey? Reviving passion and romance probably won't be a problem: it seems likely you'll be in romantic mood. Film and music could have great impact. You might also be tempted to compare prices and resolve to make a purchase early this week. The Internet could provide the perfect window-shopping opportunity. The art of photography could entrance you too.
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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 Sept. 16-18, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,796 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is +/-2 percentage point
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets