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 8/25**:
Despite the fact that at the time of this writing the DNC cannot confirm an opening gavel time for their Denver gala - something an astrologer needs to forecast - the convention trends reveal one clear fact. Far more action and energy stimulate Obama's horoscope during DNC than McCain's at the RNC. That's good news, bad news.
On Monday Obama's chart takes an exact hit to his action/innovation planet, Mars, from the diffuse Neptune. Neptune represents idealism, inspiration, invocation and also blurriness mixed with the sensation of being usurped, fogged in or invisible. This effect has been ongoing for a few weeks and has a bit longer to go. This pattern creates the inexplicable impact of smears, distortions and/or fact embellishments created by the McCain camp and their supporters. You can bet Obama shakes his head, wondering why people can't lift the veil and hear what he's saying. The result: the claims and accusations stick to Obama like gum, or worse, on the bottom of one's shoe. This pattern will not last that much longer. In about a month, it'll be McCain's turn to with this effect.
There will be other manifestations of this pattern in Denver. It's an odd thing with Neptune, though it doesn't directly involve a person by activity, there's association by proximity. Simply, if someone pees in the pool, though at the other end, everyone gets it. Whatever happens in Denver during the DNC will be attributed to Obama or his campaign. The presence of others easily obscures one's visibility. Don't let celebrities steal the show.
Neptune represents the downtrodden, those with no voice or underdogs. Thus, the deference rendered to Hillary during the convention. Maybe her supporters can get behind what's happening. If they can't, whips patrol the floor.
Neptune, in less than ideal implications, represents confinement or incarceration... like a warehouse jail for instance. Hopefully, protestors whether of the opposition or within the party do not get so much coverage as to avert the eyes from the real story.
Neptune connotes drugs. In the city of Denver, if over 21, a person may possess up to an ounce of marijuana. However, Colorado does not recognize this law, often resulting in arrests. A panel in Denver passed a resolution encouraging the Denver Police to overlook marijuana usage for the convention - again, let's keep our eye on the ball of the story.
Another influence of Neptune is sound. Will the sound systems function properly? Will the crowd create noise interference? How is the sound in the outdoor venues a mile up when speaking to tens of thousands?
How about some recommended day by day themes for Obama?
Monday's message - Every American has the fundamental right to feel secure not only against terrorists, but protected against an adverse economy. Americans must have hope in their work, the economic climate and perceive a good future without having to create a part time career on eBay. Remember to have a little chat with Hillary's supporters in a private venue.
Tuesday's message - Repeat Monday's message for slow learners and those hell bent on distorting statements. Speak fast and clearly such that no sentence can be truncated into a sound bite.
Wednesday's message - Emphasize social services, health care and economic recovery plans with impeccable definition of tax code brackets.
Thursday - There's a surge for Obama. The Sun activates his personal magnetism/power planet, Pluto. There's a slight bump in polls. Of course there is; this is nomination acceptance day. Notwithstanding, sound/noise problems, the Sun and Pluto promise one of the most hopeful, inspired and visionary speeches in decades.
Throughout the venue, the lunar placement stresses work ethics, both of Obama and of the U. S. While backing away from the issue, McCain might just reinstate the draft. So, what if Obama proposes a work force program like the CCC, only green, that allows Americans to fulfill their obligation to country? America's unemployed could work in a federal program to create alternative energy options in harmony with Mother Nature and wildlife and repair the ecological damage of the past administration. That's a plan not even Neptune can distort.
Still, Neptune stands strong. The expected blue blip in the polls appears smaller than expected - until Thursday, that is.
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:
It's possible that your nervous system needs a different kind of stimulation: swimming, walking, yoga or dance could help hugely. You may have fallen into worry-over-drive and need something like this to help calm you down. A fellow Virgo's companionship, possibly suffering from similar symptoms, could provide the answer. It might also be that you're running on spiritual 'empty' and need to do something about that too.
You could spend much of the day playing with numbers: which could be anything from trying to balance the books to finding a discount deal. Backing a hunch could put you on the right path - though it's likely to be a little while before you find what you're looking for. Meanwhile negotiations with someone close who always seems to have an answer to everything could be beneficial.
High around 85F.
High near 92F. .
. High 85F.
San Francisco, CA
High around 66F.
General Election Poll: Gallup Daily Tracking Poll
The general-election results are based on combined data from Aug. 21-23, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,625 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.
Betting Lines: Intrade Prediction Markets