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 10/6**:
Back to the presidential candidates we are. Today marks the middle of the communication mangling Mercury retrograde. This day observes an alignment of the Earth-Sun-Mercury in which if one is pushing an agenda, it might just slip through the cracks and get right where one wants it to be. With the second debate tomorrow, let's take a look at how the candidates fare. First a shared general notation: This debate occurs with the Moon in Capricorn. This placement is methodical, plodding, calculating, historical in nature, heavy on facts and figures and lacks a sense of humor. If neither candidate adds fire, expect viewers to fall off (or asleep) in the first forty-five minutes.
McCain enters this debate in a short term trigger, stress free zone. Venus recently passed through a rough angle to his edgy Mars. During this time he was testy with the press, sarcastic and came off sounding like the Penguin in Batman as he gloated over Sarah's debate performance. That edge is gone. Even a renegade has enough sense to respond to debate coaches. During the debate, the self-proclaimed maverick is favored by the Capricorn Moon, though he appears more conservative than his maverick brand desires. Since Capricorn rules archives and legacies, his voting record on women's rights, the economy, social and environmental issues hurt him. McCain enjoys a very, very short period where it appears that damage control contained recent flooding. Don't get comfy. Saturn is now virtually on top of his Neptune. It's unlikely his debate statements pass fact check sniff tests. Safety tip: Resist the urge to go negative. Negative ads badly bite his butt within two weeks.
Mars, male stuff, now in Scorpio favors Obama's Venus, female/economic stuff. His polling generally improves with woman, and his presence in the debate regarding the economy and women's rights works fantastically. With the Moon of the debate camping out on his Saturn, he must avoid boring viewers or appearing too smart. You might know your stuff and have facts, but I was hoping for a good show - or at least a fight. I got spoiled last week by the perky candidate. At least give me a wink and a nod so I feel comfortable. The risk for Obama is being too solid, strategic and Presidential. His best drama comes from moments in which he challenges McCain's values and Palin's presence, declaring nonsense as nonsense. Smoothly throttled, dedicated passion dedicated to myth busting is the ticket.
Likely this debate does not do much to change ongoing polling trends. Without fire, the debate is a draw on chart paper. Little changes until later in the week, when global tensions recapture our focus, which has unfortunately slipped.
POLLING METHODOLOGY: New Polls Added 10/6
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 44%, Obama 48%
Method: 2,873 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, "6.1% of those who received an invitation completed the survey."
Results: McCain 40%, Obama 52%
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 42%, Obama 50%
Method: ,2744 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 52%, 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 50%, McCain 43%
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|
43% Gallup Daily
VIRGO August 29, 1936
Ok, you could go WAY, WAY over the top. If on holiday you could do it in style - and in the moonlight. Back at home-base a different kind of emotional wave could carry you (shopping?). The point about all this is that having decided you 'deserve a treat', you could go overboard. It's not all bad news though: you could come to the notice of someone who says little, watches everything, and knows how to tease romantic cells into action. Lines of communication may also need to be uncrossed - which might require that you put pen to paper. Facts are likely to be plentiful. The art for you is to put these in order and to make a presentation without emotion - even if you're seething inside. Travel arrangements might also be much discussed. It could fall to you to suggest how these might be shared.
48% Gallup Daily
LEO August 4, 1961
Imagine that your brain has been invaded: too many ideas and undercurrents could be thrown at you all at once. Your nervous system might find it difficult to cope. Which might, understandably, draw you to someone who seems better able to deal with 'the dark side (a Scorpio?). Being encouraged to tune into instinctive reactions may be no bad thing: all you have to remember is that these are early days and that you need more time to practice. In short, you could be taken on a mystery ride. Mobile phone, internet connections, meters and control units could play more important roles than usual. On the negative side, you could be caught by a speed camera or slowed by a traffic jam. On the positive side you could make a communications break-through and reduce costs - thanks to advice from a close associate who's already made savings.
Considerable clouds early. Some decrease in clouds later in the day. High 57F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.
Sunny along with a few clouds. Warm. High 87F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.
Showers early then thundershowers developing later in the day. High 72F. Winds SSE at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 60%.
Las Vegas, NV
Mainly sunny. High 86F. Winds NE 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 Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,747 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 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