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 9/22**:
With the election only weeks away, let’s go for the nuts and bolts of the candidates’ horoscopes.
Obama's general demeanor continues to capture interest. The approach he's demonstrated toward the onslaught of ongoing crises soothes and establishes an approach of not experience per se, but certainly judgment. Favorable patterns of the communicator, Mercury, and the doer, Mars, impact Obama over the next days. Curiously, while McCain touts the maverick card, Obama conjures the high road application of what a maverick does. He establishes creative alternatives, innovative programs and weaves the best of past generations with current trends and with an eye on what kind of country our children's children stand in line to inherit. Venus moves into a water sign, Scorpio, neatly inspiring his Venus - the planet of money, appeal and women. The ground recently lost in the polls regarding the women demographic is recovered. This pattern benefits from simultaneous, intensifying trends in Sarah Palin's chart that arouse questions if not concerns.
The point stimulated when McCain observed that Palin was a soul mate, takes an even stronger hit in the next days. This could suggest that McCain is challenged during interviews about this line of thinking; how can someone so different on many key platform points be aligned in consciousness as a soul-soul connection is supposed to be? Oh by the way, is this how you make important decisions? Added with the increasing pressure of the perception of his failing sense of reality, fact checks, connection to the "average person," Saturn persists in maintaining hard line. Uranus, planetary maverick, aligns smack dab with McCain's Saturn. His voting record, previous statements and radical proposals dog McCain like a shadow. Arizonans do not readily observe shadows. Since Arizonans try to stay in the shade, an Arizonan can conclude there is no shadow. This implication moves from metaphor into hard core challenges and slippage. Saturn, keeper of the archives, the old returns for yet another pass. Previous financial affiliations rise into the light of day much like a western high noon showdown at the not so OK Corral.
POLLING METHODOLOGY: New Polls Added 9/24
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 44%, Obama 48%
Method: 1,100 likely voters polled over three days.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A Research 2000 representative explained the methodology of the poll, saying that it was a rolling poll with a baseline of 1,100 likely voters, taking approximately 355 to 365 calls per night and throwing out the oldest numbers. "I would say that [we take] one in every eight calls on average," he said, attributing this rate to a combination of callers "telling us to go to hell" and callers not meeting their standard of a "likely voter" through a name recognition test.
Results: McCain 46%, Obama 48%
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 20-22:
Total adults contacted: 5,310
Total adults screened: 2,075*
Total failing screen or dropping out: 875
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 44%, Obama 47%
Method: 2,712 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 49%, McCain 47%
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.
|Mccain vs obama in the General election|
American Research Group
August 29, 1936
Your ruling planet, Mercury, appears to stand still today. You may be facing a moral or ethical dilemma. You might also be wondering if you should stay in a relationship or if it's reached its sell-by-date. This is as true at work as in love. You might feel, justifiably, that you're being given mixed messages. That might be true too. Perhaps it's time to make a list of pros and cons?
American Research Group
August 4, 1961
Mercury appears to stand still in the sky - and you too might need to stop and reflect. Recent events may have gathered such a momentum that you haven't much chance to voice your thoughts. Now you could 'have the floor'. Even those close might be surprised by what you have to say. It could be that you've identified a new goal or that you need someone to share an ambition.
Partly cloudy skies. High 71F. Winds NE at 10 to 20 mph. .
Sun and clouds mixed with a slight chance of thunderstorms during the afternoon. Warm. High 84F. N winds shifting to ESE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Las Vegas, NV
General Election Poll: American Research Group
Sample size: 1200 likely voters
Sample dates: September 20-22, 2008
Margin of error: ± 3 percentage points
Question wording: If the general election were being held today between John McCain for president and Sarah Palin for vice president, the Republicans, and Barack Obama for president and Joe Biden for vice president, the Democrats, for whom would you vote - McCain and Palin or Obama and Biden? (names rotated)
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets