Published Online: November 9, 2004
Published in Print: November 10, 2004, as Decision 2004

Federal File

Decision 2004

Some Youth Surveys Were More on Target Than Those Early Exit Polls

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The results are in, and now it’s time to see who won—the mock elections, that is.

With a number of youth presidential polls claiming a track record of correct predictions, and with results from the mock elections split between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, some had to be wrong this year.

At least half a dozen children’s media organizations and other groups conducted youth polls. The mock votes held by the educational publisher Scholastic Inc., Weekly Reader magazine, and the classroom TV news show Channel One all went for President Bush. Weekly Reader claims a perfect record of predicting the winner going back to the election of 1956.

Students at Northfield Mount Hermon School.
Students at Northfield Mount Hermon School announce mock presidential-election results.
—Craig Hefner/Courtesy of Northfield Mount Hermon School

The elections held by the Nickelodeon cable TV channel, and the Northfield, Mass.-based Voting Opportunities for Teenagers in Every State, or VOTES, went for Sen. Kerry.

The VOTES program had correctly predicted the winner of every presidential contest since 1988.

Jim Shea, a co-founder of the VOTES program, and a government teacher at the 875-student Northfield Mount Hermon School, where the program is based, said he didn’t think the fact that the real election turned out differently upset the participants.

Mr. Shea noted that after the 2000 presidential election, the political process disheartened a number of students. Although many students at the liberal-leaning private school were disappointed with the result this year, he said, “the process worked, even if the results didn’t. … It was a bit of a dose of reality for some of our kids.”

The national program involves at least two high schools from each state, and, as in the real election, the winner is decided by electoral votes. Sen. Kerry finished strong with 326 electoral votes and 50.2 percent of the popular vote, while President Bush received 212 electoral votes and 42.5 percent of the popular vote.

The National Student/Parent Mock Election, which is usually a few days before Election Day, was held open until Nov. 2 this year because of technical difficulties. President Bush got 52 percent of the vote, with Mr. Kerry receiving 44 percent.

The Time for Kids Web site held a mock vote on Election Day that went to Mr. Bush, with 53.5 percent. Mr. Kerry got 42.9 percent.

Vol. 24, Issue 11, Page 24

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