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 10/2**:
We'll take a quick break from noting the polls for McCain and Obama to detail the trends for the vice-presidential debate. The communication planet, Mercury, continues his backward track, opening the door for gaffes, misstatements and twists of context. Combined with Biden's skill of going on a spell and Palin's ability to fill dead air with her brand of air, it could be rich. With a passionate, down and dirty Scorpio Moon that can blurt what out it really feels if properly pushed, the promise for a debate for archives exists... oh, for the tantalizing trigger.
To be clear, there are two times floating around for Sarah Palin. The McCain campaign failed to respond to both e-mail and phone requests for confirmation. Watching recent events, the 4:40 P.M. chart tracks better.
Three strong triggers affect the Gov's chart during the debate. Mercury engages with Jupiter, known for embellishment, exaggeration, and if cornered, making up stuff. It's hard to cram in Sedona. They have confusing circles in the road and high powered energy altering UFO amplified vortices that even continual exposure to Northern lights cannot mitigate. If she can sort through that and the free association tendency brought to her home turf by Neptune, she might be fine. Sure. The Scorpio Moon does not favor Palin's Aquarian planets. While contentious, sometimes this pattern can force a person to focus. Then again, if emotionally stirred and pushed off center, the tenor can turn impolite. To win collective favor, she must eliminate comments that come off as insulting and adolescent. The Inuit planet, Sedna, also featured in McCain's horoscope, addresses a tough to sort myth in which a father throws a daughter off the boat to save his own carcass. The spread of appeals for Palin's removal from the ticket widens. She's in a hard place; the line she must toe is particularly thin and definitely not circuitous.
Joe, once he gets rolling, can dash right past go, miss the $200 and blow the sale. However, being a Scorpio, he rides a huge wave of favor during the debate. Venus aligns with his Mars, boosting his like ability and demeanor. Venus being women and Mars being Men, he's submitted to a hammering from aides about sexism, patronizing tones and decorum. Duly noted, but the Moon urges him to stress the urgency of what's at stake. A tone of firmness while addressing hard core bottom line issues works perfectly. Given other patterns that when described sound like Biden going on, expect him to note that most administration choices made in the last eight years simply failed. And of course, McCain's intended continuance of Bush's ways pepper his points. The message: Choose change. Even if he does go on one or three of his famous tangents, unless he directly insults Palin, his stock rises.
POLLING METHODOLOGY: New Polls Added 10/2
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 45%, Obama 49%
Method: 1,200 likely voters
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": An ARG representative told us, "For the nationwide survey conducted September 27-29:
Total adults contacted: 4,396
Total adults screened: 2,011*
Total failing screen or dropping out: 811
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 46%, Obama 47%
Method: 2,102 likely voters polled using an online panel.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A Zogby representative told us, "17.4% of those invited completed the Zogby Interactive survey Sept. 26-27."
Results: McCain 40%, Obama 51%
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 43%, Obama 48%
Method: 2,747 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 51%, McCain 44%
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 49%, McCain 44%
Method: Sample of 800 likely voters.
"Will it be possible for us to get the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": After a few calls, a representative for Tarrance told us, "It's not going to be. Write what you need to write, but it's not going to be. We're four weeks out from a campaign and quite frankly this is not anywhere near my priority list. Okay?"
|Mccain vs obama in the General election|
VIRGO August 29, 1936
Crossed wires are a distinct possibility. It may be that you've inadvertently upset someone. Setting the record straight could be classed as urgent. Quick action is the big theme for the day anyway. To avoid either a financial mishap or even an accident, you might need to employ quick-thinking skills. The good news is that someone who loves the crazy bits about you could reassure you that they still care - and greatly.
LEO August 4, 1961
You could come across as temperamental. It might even be that you've contradicted yourself. So, someone close (probably a Water baby: Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces) might need reassurance from you. Just part of the problem could be intermittent communication that adds to the drama. You may need to hear someone's voice rather than read their words. You might also need to clarify exactly what you said - and meant - earlier.
Cloudy with a few showers. High 56F. Winds W at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Mainly sunny. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Overcast with showers at times. High 57F. Winds W at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Santa Barbara, CA
Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 74F. Winds WNW at 10 to 15 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 Sept. 28-30, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,746 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline 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