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 10/20**:
With both candidates experiencing a hit from the edge of Mars, it should be an interesting couple of days. The 22nd marks the culmination of the pattern. For both, an increase in testiness, assertiveness and direct assault fits the pattern. A primary point of contention in the next days will be which party is actually attempting to mess with the vote? Next month's Jupiter-Eris pattern will not permit "fraud" to go unchecked. Is Obama's affiliation with ACORN certain to skew the vote or is the Justice Department, Bush Administration and McCain camp mixed in a convoluted effort to steal yet another election? Conclusions no doubt split down party lines.
The elder statesman from Arizona enjoyed a rise in the polls that defied the long term patterns. Given the entry of Venus into Sagittarius, the sign of humor, philosophy and platforms, the camp neatly rode the wave of the John-Obama mutual roast, Palin on SNL and the release of "W." Funny how entertainment can be so much of a tool of messaging. This surprisingly little surge passes as Venus squares up against McCain's Sun, coincident with this week's Mars pattern. Venus in Sag pressure and continued fact-finding Saturn stresses to McCain's Jupiter and Neptune demand truth from all assertions and accusations. Likely the week gets more heated and into temperament familiar to pit bulls and as seen before the negativity backfires.
Like McCain, Mars puts a squeeze on Obama - in his case dealing with his identity, ego and presentation of self. This will have to be enough is enough regarding Ayers, ACORN and other controversies beginning with "A." Presumably with Colin Powell's endorsement and demonstrated discord in "W," a growing wave of awareness of Obama's military leadership ability rises. Military matters, weaponry, aggression and poking back when poked fall into line with Martian influences. Venus now cruises in his career house, while McCain did make some gains, his position held. Given Mars moving off his Neptune, false accusations fall by the wayside. If he stands firm against nonsense tossed his way and persists in legal pursuit of DOJ activities, his stock rises. Regardless of the slight polling hiccups, the price of betting on an Obama win continues its rise. Which, method of forecasting works better? As Venus in Sag is inclined to say, put your money where your mouth is.
POLLING METHODOLOGY: New Polls Added 10/20
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 50%
Method: 1,211 likely voters polled over three days.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A Zogby representative told us that the response and refusal rates were 24.5% and 75.5%, respectively.
Results: McCain 42%, Obama 50%
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 44%, Obama 51%
Method: 2,277 likely 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 1000 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|
42% Gallup Daily
VIRGO August 29, 1936
Your worry meter could be turned to high. Now that you know the changes that have to be made, you may be anxious to get these right as soon as possible. It could be that not all the facts are yet known however. In fact, until your ruling planet, Mercury, catches up with itself during the last few days of the month, it may not be possible to get all the loose ends tied up. That said, you could learn today but you haven't lost the support of one key person.
LEO August 4, 1961
It's very likely that you'll meet an ethical problem today. Legalities, and travel arrangements might also require considerable attention. If there is a difficulty, it could be that you're on a short fuse and rapidly become impatient with those who don't yet have solid answers. It may be that you'll have to wait until late Wednesday before a certain project can be pushed forward. With all this going on it would be easy to ignore the needs of a Water baby who may be feeling exceptionally insecure.
Mainly sunny. High 61F. Winds NNW at 5 to 10 mph.
A few passing clouds, otherwise generally sunny. High 72F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph.
|midwest||Kansas City, KS
Partly cloudy skies during the morning hours will become overcast in the afternoon. High 66F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph.
Rain early...then remaining cloudy with showers in the afternoon. High 52F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 70%. Rainfall around a quarter of an inch.
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. 16-18, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,798 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
For results based on the sample of 2,590 "traditional" likely voters (based on the model taking into account current voting intention and past voting behavior), the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
For results based on the sample of 2,277 more broadly defined likely voters (based on the model taking into account current voting intention only), the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line 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