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|
46% Rasmussen Daily
VIRGO August 29, 1936
You may be amused by the way in which someone attempts to 'do a deal'. Through your network of friends you could discover a little known fact that would make a difference to negotiations. Someone might suggest you're manipulating a scene. You might see this as a compliment. Elsewhere, it could fall to you to make someone realise the gravity of a situation.
|50% Rasmussen Daily||
LEO August 4, 1961
Stoking romantic fires - and/or improving prospects in a speculative venture could feel right. You might be happy working 'behind the scenes'. Contact with someone who appears extremely knowledgeable about a subject could leave you momentarily overawed - at least until you realise that they need your creative flair as much as you need their expertise.
Cloudy with a few showers. High 49F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Partly cloudy skies. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph.
Windy. A few showers early with partly cloudy skies later in the day. High 49F. Winds NNW at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 30%.
Santa Barbara, CA
Mainly sunny. High 77F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Stronger winds in and below canyons and passes.
General Election Poll: Rasmussen Daily Tracking
Like all polling firms, Rasmussen Reports weights its data to reflect the population at large. Among other targets, Rasmussen Reports weights data by political party affiliation using a dynamic weighting process. Our baseline targets are established based upon survey interviews with a sample of adults nationwide completed during the preceding three months (a total of 45,000 interviews). For the month of August, the targets are 40.6% Democrat, 31.6% Republican, and 27.8% unaffiliated. For July, the targets were 41.4% Democrat, 31.5% Republican, and 27.1% unaffiliated (see party trends and analysis).
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets