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 8/18**:
Who are these guys really? Do their charts contain factors that might help a voter to decide the better choice? Let's give their personality planets a Dickens of a going over. These are the best of planets; these are the worst of planets.
Sun in Virgo - At best this is methodical, thoughtful, thorough, perfectionist with zero tolerance for incompetence and ignorance. Organized and clear, they create systems that operate efficiently. Poorly applied the person is critical, judgmental, condescending and intolerant. It can nit pick and distort the big picture with meaningless "facts." If less than ideal we find sloppiness, carelessness and reckless judgment.
Moon in Capricorn - Emotional stability and rock solid yearning steers this ship. The abilities to lead, delegate and manage without interference merge. This position calculates emotional risk and functions within known, safe limits and favors material security. On the down side, this placement demonstrates a controlling, dictatorial, stingy, emotionally blocked, hesitant and blame assigning demeanor.
Mercury in Libra - This is the epitome of diplomacy, tact, charm and decorum. Considerate of the views of others, this Mercury weighs data before making a decision. If ill applied, it's prone to arguing, badgering, bullying and beating horses to death. Here we find the original waffle house, typically knuckling to economic pressure.
Venus in Virgo - The urge for perfectionism in fiscal and relationship affairs drives the goal platform. Extremely discerning standards in art, aesthetics and beauty combined with the need for financial impeccability round out the best case. Other handedly, this influence displays criticism and elitism. Financial carelessness stems from a lack of interest. Other people do that stuff, don't they?
Mars in Leo - Robust, confident and self-assured, a "damn the torpedoes," mentality results. Receptivity to becoming the hub of the wheel connecting all spokes establishes a sense of deservability/entitlement. If poorly managed, actions border on hostile and confrontational. Egotism, narcissism and a sense of dominion mark insecure uses of this energy.
Libra Ascending - Charming and sensitive to decorum, arbitration, negotiation and diplomacy skills marks the upside. The downside consists of indecisiveness, needing a slew of input, commonly relying upon the last input received. Overly concerned with appearance, not substance, shallowness overrides sensibility.
Sun in Leo - Leos are confident, bold, self-assured, charismatic and magnetic. They proceed with determined resolve and belief in themselves, their views and their methods. If not executed well, this placement leans to egotism, stubbornness and disrespect for of opinions that contradict their primary agendas.
Moon in Gemini - Emotionally disposed to hearing the input of others, to set a proper course this position seeks out data points prior to making decisions. Flexible and open minded, Gemini Moons encourage divergent points of view to come together. Disposed to indecisiveness when bouncing between scattered facts of a major information dump, forgetfulness also results. This point, when locked on what it wants, can talk itself right past a "win" and justify anything.
Mercury in Leo- Exceedingly charismatic and persuasive, this communication skill set can rally support for anything from anyone. Confident and convincing, these gregarious sorts can chat up anyone on a variety of topics. On the down, opinionated rants oversell one's opinions in bombastic and over bearing tones. The disposition and opinions can be focused to the point of inflexibility.
Venus in Cancer - Talk about home values! Little surpasses this placement for wanting a safe and secure home/homeland. Fiscal security, food and shelter top the list of priorities. The cautionary view of "an ounce of prevention," applies. This can be nationalistic and patriotic. When poorly applied, this point is stingy, hoarding and fearful of what may come. Parental moralism squelches opinions one feels do match their own for maturity.
Mars in Virgo - Calculating, considerate of all factors, deliberately methodical, these folks apply a large dollop of strategy to every action. Aware of multiple priorities and constantly shifting variables, these folks consistently pull the correct string to untangle life's ball of yarn. If ineffective, these folks never get around to anything, constantly weighing variables and fretting over the correct/perfect course of action. Oscillations between critical and perfectionism and incompetent and sloppy appear.
Aquarius Ascending - These people actually think in terms of "for the good of all" applying an awareness of whole world that transcends borders, theology and politics. Thinking in the big picture, these folks think and act systemically. In poorer application, this pattern comes off aloof, disconnected and presents a looking down the nose condescending appearance.
While there are many possible descriptors for the planets above, may this nutshell view spin the planets to rotate in harmony in your personal voting booth.
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.
Quinnipiac University Poll, Conducted August 12-17
Results: Obama 47%, McCain 42%
Method: 1,547 likely voters polled over 6 days.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": Quinnipiac representative estimated a 10% to 15%, consistent with other Quinnipiac polls. The refusal rate was not known.
Zogby Internet Poll, Conducted August 12-14
Results: Obama 43%, McCain 40%
Method: 3,339 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 said, "The response rate is 10% and we do not calculate refusal rates for Zogby Interactive polls."
AP/Ipsos Poll Conducted July 31-August 4
Results: Obama 47%, McCain 41%
Method: Random sample of 1,002 adults across the country over five days. 833 were registered voters.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?":
Ipsos representative: "As far as I know we don't publish response and refusal rates...We conducted the poll for the Associated Press, you'd have to ask them about releasing the response and refusal rates."
Associated Press representative: "We don't have them here from Ipsos. It takes a little while for them to get those to us...I can ask them. It shouldn't take too long, but normally it takes a few days...They're not secret or anything."
Gallup Daily Poll Conducted August 15-August 17
Results: Obama 46%, McCain 43%
Method:2,660 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).
The Economist/YouGov Poll Full Conducted August 11-August 13
Results: Obama 41%, McCain 40%
Method:Emailed panel of 1,000 adults.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A representative for YouGov wrote, "The response rate for the poll was 31% over a three-day field period. Because of the unique method of collecting data for this poll, the response rate is not comparable to those of telephone-based polls." When asked about a response rate, the representative replied, "As we collect data using our online panel, there really is not a comparable metric to the refusal rates that telephone polls have."
Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll Conducted August 16-August 18
Results: Obama 45%, McCain 42%
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".
CBS News Poll Conducted
July 31-August 5
Results: Obama 45%, McCain 39% Method: Polled 1,034 --of that, 906 were registered voters. "Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": Response rate -- 11.51%, refusal rate -- 26.54%. Both are according to the American Association for Public Opinion Research's definition of Response Rate 1 and Refusal Rate 1 (both of which can be found in this PDF).
Zogby/Reuters Phone Poll August 14-August 16
Results: Obama 41%, McCain 46%
Method: Polled 1,089 likely voters.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": A Zogby representative told us, "The latest Reuters/Zogby poll has a cooperation rate of 16%".
LA Times/Bloomberg National Poll Conducted August 15-August 18
Results: Obama 45%, McCain 43%
Method: Polled 1,375 adults, including 1,248 registered voters.
"Can you please give us the response and refusal rates for your most recent national poll?": Representatives from Bloomberg have not yet returned The Huffington Post's request for information.
THE LATEST POLLS, WEATHER, ASTROLOGICAL POSTINGS AND BETTING LINES ON THE CANDIDATES:
You may wonder if you've taken on too much. Designs and arrangements could be changed over and over. It may be the end of this week before they're finally confirmed. For now, your relationship with someone born under Leo could be high profile, yet have to be kept under wraps in some way! Your social life could be quite exhausting at the moment.
You might at last have inspired others to get a job done and/or to work together. There could be a financial element to this. You might even have placed a bet or taken a bit of a risk. Contact with someone who visited your home when you were much younger is possible. It's likely too that you'll be introduced to someone whose efficient manner initially disturbs you. You might decide though that this is a relationship to be cultivated.
High 88F. Chance of rain 20%.
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General Election Poll: Gallup Daily Tracking
The general-election results are based on combined data from Aug. 16-18, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,648 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets