Small Children Give Big Landslide to Obama

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

It’s now official: the children of America have spoken.  In its fourteenth quadrennial presidential poll, the Weekly Reader tabulated the votes of over 125,000 school children, ranging from kindergarteners through the tween set and all the way to high school.  The result: Democrat Barack Obama, with a solid 54.7 percent of the vote, defeated his Republican rival John McCain, who garnered a paltry 42.9 percent.  Despite the fact that most of the participants are ineligible to vote in the real election, the outcome is nevertheless significant.  In twelve of the thirteen previous elections, the Weekly Reader poll has accurately predicted the winner of the general election.  The only exception came in 1992, when the little jerks voted for Bush the Elder rather than Clinton.  It should also be noted that, in 2000, Florida school kids, presumably confused by the ballot, voted overwhelmingly in favor of Pat Buchanan.

Is our children voting?

George W. Bush: "Is our children voting?"

With its its success rate at over 90 percent, the Weekly Reader has been more accurate in its predictions than many major polling organizations, such as Zogby or … well, mostly Zogby.  In fact, Zogby helped to run this year’s Weekly Reader poll, which should naturally make one a bit skeptical of the results.  After all, the poll’s methodology is suspect, it doesn’t reach kids who only have cell phones, and it undercounts home schoolers and dropouts (core constituencies of the Republican Party), .

Nevertheless, there are several reasons to take the poll seriously.  Pundits surmise that the children, who gain most of their political knowledge from their parents, will vote for candidates that reflect their parents’ preferences.  The children, in effect, are stand-ins for their parents, who can’t be bothered to pick up the phone and respond to pollsters who call right in the middle of Deal or No Deal.  So, in other words, if little Johnny votes for Obama, it’s probably because his parents plan to vote for Obama, and if little Suzy votes for McCain, its probably because her parents are abusing her.  Quick, call the cops!

It’s not known how the presidential campaigns reacted to this news.  Contrary to what you might believe, Sarah Palin, upon hearing the results, did not immediately cancel her subscription to the Weekly Reader.  I have it on good authority that she cancelled it months ago as a protest against the paper’s pervasive liberal bias in covering the Iraq War.  In fact, she was not even able to marshal the vast resources of her large family — including nephews Larch and Stick, niece Feldspar, and the twins Fleegle and Snorky — to carry the McCain-Palin ticket to victory in Alaska.  This does not bode well for the GOP.  No no, not well at all.

Perhaps more important than the predictive value of the Weekly Reader poll for this election is the predictive value it may have for elections to come.  In 1971, young people, aged 18 to 20, were given the right to vote in federal elections by the 26th Amendment.  Since then, they have showed their appreciation by voting in abysmally low numbers, preferring instead to devote themselves to American Idol and the cultivation of their own narcissistic ennui.  This election, however, has already sucked a remarkable percentage of the iPod demographic into its vortex.  As Nate Silver points out, this year the youth vote represented 14 percent of the Democratic primary voters, which is up from 9 percent four years ago.  That’s a 52 percent increase.  A similar increase in the general election would see youth participation reach levels it has not seen since 1972.

We do not know if today’s preteen Obama supporter will be tomorrow’s champion of progressive values.  It is well to remember that many of the neo-cons who led the nation into war were once leftists, and so there is still plenty of time for the participants in this year’s Weekly Reader poll to refine their ideologies and become complete jerks.  There is, nevertheless, the hope that the school children of today, their political views formed in the crucible of the 2008 election, will constitute the basis of a more liberal electorate in the years to come.


1 Comment

  1. nimh  •  Oct 31, 2008 @5:58 pm

    Heh. Funny stuff. Goes right with what we were chatting about in the comments section to this post.

    Clever bit of Zogby bashing too. Reminds me of that column eBeth pointed to, which began like this:

    I knew I had come down with something severe and hideous when, Thursday afternoon, roughly three minutes after I began looking at the latest polling data at Real Clear Politics, I refreshed my browser. Because what if there was an even newer poll! I didn’t want to be three minutes out of date. [..]

    I’m not a complete poll junkie yet, because I still don’t know how to pronounce Quinnipiac. I know that, when someone uses the word “Zogby,” that’s my cue to laugh derisively, but what comes out is often just an insincere chuckle. The really advanced junkies know how to use “Zogby” as a verb, as in:

    Husband: The way I look at these numbers, seems to me we should sell our Berkshire Hathaway and load up on GM.

    Wife: Don’t go Zogby on me.

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