Friday, October 31, 2008

America's student poll the best election bellwether?

Sooo... I may not have even used the term "bellwether" in its proper context. The only time I ever hear that word is around election time and don't think about it enough to remember how exactly to get it right in a sentence.

It does have interesting associations, though. During the election "bellwethers" are the political equivalent to palm readings and tea leaf divination... In the past two or three weeks I have heard Ohio be called the nation's most reliable indicator for the entire nation's voting patterns on NPR during my drive to work. Once I get to work and take my news break, Slate has determined that not all of Ohio, but one solitary bakery in Cincinnati can determine the winner based on whose likeness sells more cookies.

But this has to be the most interesting article I've come across so far - Weekly Reader asserts that it's neither one state nor one bakery that will determine this term's winner, but rather America's schoolchildren.

And the children have spoken.

According to the 2008 Weekly Reader Presidential Election Poll, Obama is the man by 57.4 percent of students' (aged kindergarten through 12th grade) votes. More than 125,000 kids voted, and according to Weekly Reader:

For the past 52 years, the results of the Weekly Reader poll have been consistently on target, with the student vote correctly predicting the next president in 12 out of 13 elections. (The only time the kids were wrong was 1992, when they chose George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton.) This year, as in 2000 and 2004, the student election was conducted in conjunction with noted polling organization Zogby International.
I remember Weekly Reader... Those were the days. And possibly part of what has exacerbated my current news fixation.

Cute election site (possibly for adults too, if *some* need to start slowly to catch up on their politics) - nice chance for kids to participate in what will someday be their civic duty. A little early awareness never hurt anybody.

Parting observations from the schoolkids polled -

  • "This is history being made!"
  • "I will always remember this. It's nice to have my vote counted!"
  • "Even though I am not 18, my voice is being heard."
  • "I like McCain because he loves pets like I do."
  • "I want to be president. I am going to be president. If Obama can run for president, so can I." (Comment from a Hispanic second-grade boy.)
Read the rest of the release (including some of the more thought provoking trends) here.

No comments: