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**:
In the next days, the Sun in Libra - a sign known for negotiation but that secretly loves a good fight out in the open where the drama really counts - lines up on the opposite side of the sky as Eris - dwarf planet goddess of discord, lover of war and one who lusts for blood shed. This pattern brings global tensions out in the open where they must be noticed and addressed. We know Eris hates to be excluded. Diplomatically, all sides need to be invited to have conversations. Recently five former Secretaries of State agreed on this point, an agenda Obama brings forward. As McCain bickers about “preconditions,” sporting “bring ‘em on/screw ‘em” bravado, the polls respond in a manner preconditioned to sinking.
Obama holds his own. He’s slightly less than a week away from Venus hitting the top of his chart beginning an increasing pattern of attention and favor to his messages. Given that Venus leads the run of planets, social services, helping the economically disadvantaged and health care are his big sellers. Jupiter the planet of ideas runs halfway between the planet of power, Pluto, and the do-bee planet, Mars. Taking a cue from Brokaw’s question of whom he’d like as Secretary of Treasury, it would be very wise to tip his hand on a full spectrum of desired cabinet members. For the next week he hovers about where he is until his surge, led by Venus begins next week.
By all objective astrological analysis, the party’s over. Saturn, who just loves to dollop doses of reality, covers the veil McCain’s Neptune. Fact checks rarely work and the effort to stir fear and paranoia becomes equal in impact to flatulence in a Wasilla church. It appears that the skid is on. Sure the Sun is crossing his public personal point and he’s had the upward flicker of poll status. As seen before with contacts to this point, once they move beyond, like the market, there’s nothing backing upward trends of fluff. Saturn now squares McCain’s Jupiter - the idea, concept, good thinking/bad thinking, right/wrong planet. He gets no slack on the “you were wrong” message. It sticks. As Saturn moves along, it makes a tough angle to one of the astrological objects that signify “maverick.” That brand goes flat faster than a beer in the Arizona heat. Barring a radical contrivance - that would have to be a real world event - it’s time to roll up the banners.
POLLING METHODOLOGY: New Polls Added 10/8
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 47%
Method: 1,220 likely voters
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A Zogby representative told us, "26.6 response rate phone, 73.4 refusal rate phone."
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 41%, 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 41%, Obama 52%
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 45%
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 45%
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|
41% Gallup Daily
VIRGO August 29, 1936
Through a friend or network you could make a breakthrough. It may be that you're now ready to 'sell yourself' differently - which might even include modifying your signature so that it ends with a positive upward stroke. It might also be that with the encouragement of someone close, you're ready to make a contact that would put your skills and talents into the spotlight.
|52% Gallup Daily||
LEO August 4, 1961
A close friend's 'good idea' could result in agreement to change a domestic practice or to revitalise an area of your home that hasn't been touched in ages. The process could be slow in that papers and items could come to light that you want to enjoy once more. It may be a Pisces friend or relative - or even music - that keeps you on track and ensures that you conclude the day feeling that you've shifted things along a little..
|East||New York, NY
High 73F. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.
High 87F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 20%.
|midwest||St. Louis, MO
High 77F. Winds ESE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 10%.
High 60F. Winds N at 5 to 10. Chance of rain 10%.
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 Oct. 6-8, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,761 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets