Federal Campaign Notebook

The Polls Are Closed in Scholastic Precincts

By Alyson Klein — October 20, 2008 1 min read

If children could vote, Barack Obama would be the next president, according to the Scholastic Presidential Election Poll for Kids. Sen. Obama got 57 percent of the vote to Sen. John McCain’s 39 percent, according to results released Oct. 14.

Nearly 250,000 students from 1st grade through 12th grade participated in the poll, which was conducted both by paper ballot and online.

Four percent of students voted for someone else. The poll had the highest percentage of write-in votes ever, with the students overlooking the major parties’ nominees to cast votes for others such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, TV host Stephen Colbert, and “my dad.”

The Youth Vote

Some 250,000 elementary and secondary school students cast ballots in the Scholastic Poll, which has predicted the winner in all but two general elections since 1940.

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SOURCE: Scholastic Presidential Election Poll for Kids

There doesn’t seem to have been much of a “Sarah Palin” effect. A majority of girls voted for Sen. Obama, 57 percent to 39 percent. Sen. McCain was more competitive among boys; he took 46 percent of their vote to Mr. Obama’s 49 percent.

Even though most of the participants won’t be able to cast real ballots next month, the Obama and McCain campaigns may want to take a serious look at the results. The non-scientific Scholastic Poll has predicted the winner of the White House in almost every election since 1940. The exceptions came in 1948, when the children picked Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman, and in 1960, when they chose Richard M. Nixon over John F. Kennedy. In 2000, the Scholastic participants favored George W. Bush, who won the Electoral College but not the popular vote over Al Gore.

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A version of this article appeared in the October 22, 2008 edition of Education Week

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