Are there any tea leaves to predicting this election beyond the unreliable polls? If you are in to political mythology, there are three.
The first relies on the Redskins. If they win the game closest to the election, the incumbent wins. We’ll find out soon enough.
Second is the Scholastic News poll of students, which has been ongoing since 1940 and has been right every time except 1948 and 1960.
Third is the Weekly Reader poll, which has accurately predicted the outcome for every election since it began in 1956. One caveat here. Some in the media say that in 1992, the Weekly Reader picked Bush. Students in kindergarten through third grade overwhelmingly picked George H. W. Bush. But, students in grades 4-12 picked Bill Clinton. I have, since I was old enough to pay attention and think rationally about the Weekly Reader survey, ignored K-3 because the students hear a lot about the incumbent and not the challenger. They are, therefore, susceptible to a vote on pure name identification. This year bears that out.
So, how did things go with Scholastic News?
“George W. Bush won the kid’s election poll with 52 percent of the vote,” announced Scholastic Student Reporter David Rush. Senator John Kerry received 47 percent. One percent of the votes were for “other,” with quite a few kids writing in “Mom” as their choice for President.
What about the Weekly Reader?
President Bush was a strong winner in the student poll; the only state Senator Kerry won was Maryland. Senator Kerry was also in a statistical dead heat with President Bush in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and Vermont. President Bush won most grades, although Senator Kerry did win among tenth-graders.
As I mentioned, K-3 voted overwhelmingly for Bush. Interestingly, grades 4-12 were rather close, though still tilted for Bush other than the tenth grade.
Additionally, Channel One, the television news channel in classrooms throughout America? It reports that George Bush won with 55% of the vote. In fact, the only children’s poll that Kerry won was the Nickelodeon poll. I guess the SpongeBob voters like his square image and lack of spine.
If America’s kids decide the election, Bush will win. Despite the history of the polls, they are not an accurate indicator. But, they are an indicator of what kids are seeing, hearing, and talking about with their families. That just might be an indication of the intensity level.