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Voter Attitudes on School Prayer, Vouchers, and NCLB

By Michele McNeil — December 27, 2007 1 min read

If I were writing this as a traditional news story, this would be my lead:

“Forty-two percent of voters surveyed in a recent Associated Press-Yahoo poll said they would be much more likely, or somewhat more likely, to vote for a candidate who supports teacher-led prayer in public schools.”

But since this is my blog, here’s what I will say:

“For the 42 percent of voters who think teacher-led prayer is such a good idea that they would base their choice for president on it, have you considered regulating such prayer? Imagine what the teachers could pray about: ‘Dear God, please don’t let my cheerleading routine end up on YouTube.’”

Deep within the AP-Yahoo poll, conducted Dec. 14-20 with 1,821 adults, are a few interesting tidbits about voters’ feelings on education. Of those polled, 847 were Democrats and 655 were Republicans, with the rest being independent or unaffiliated with a party.

Interestingly, when voters were asked to name their top issue, education wasn’t even on the list of choices they were given. However, voters were later asked more specific questions about three education issues.

Of those polled, voters seem to like teacher-led prayer about as much as they hate No Child Left Behind.

First, on prayer. While 42 percent said they’d be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports teacher-led prayer in public schools, 27 percent said they’d be much less, or somewhat less, likely to support a candidate for that same view. Thirty percent said the issue made no difference to them.

Candidates who support scrapping NCLB get similar support (good news for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the Democratic presidential candidate who has made this his education mantra). Forty-six percent said they’d be more likely to support a candidate who wants to get rid of the law, while 27 percent say that hard-line stance would make them less likely to support the candidate. Twenty-six percent said it made no difference. (For more about candidates’ positions on NCLB, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing just compiled a list of what the presidential candidates are saying about the law.)

The poll also gauged voters’ feelings toward candidates who support federally funded vouchers to send children to private schools. More voters said they would be less likely to support a candidate who favored vouchers.

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