The first time I ever cast a ballot in life was to deny someone else their God given rights. In the 1980s during election years, Trix cereal (As in “Silly rabbit Trix are for kids” cereal) gave kids the chance to vote on whether or not Sunny the rabbit would finally get his hands on those fruity delicious Trix. I consistently voted “No.” My Mom and older brother told me I was mean for denying the rabbit his heart’s desire, but I didn’t care. I thought it was funny watching the rabbit do his Wile E. Coyote impression every morning to get his hands on a bowl of Trix when I could just grab a box out of the cabinet whenever I wanted. I was a strange little boy. My point is, that even though they may not know all of the issues (like adults do?) children can still form their own voting opinions and aren’t always just mini-reflections of their parent’s beliefs. However whether it’s kid’s views or echoing parents at home, it looks like former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney should be concerned about the recent Scholastic Kids Election results.
According to the recently released Scholastic Students Vote from Scholastic Kids Magazine mock presidential election Barack Obama wins re-election 51% to 45 over Mitt Romney. However this is kids voting. In this age of poll denial, unemployment number denial and overall electoral “Truthiness” can we trust the process for the Scholastic magazine? Scholastic Kids has a pretty good explanation for how they tap into the crucial elementary vote. According to the site:
The Scholastic Student Vote invited young people under the legal voting age of 18 to cast their vote for President in a mock election. They could vote online atwww.scholastic.com/vote or by mailing in paper ballots found in Scholastic classroom magazines. Almost a quarter million (250,000) students voted from August 15 until the online poll closed on October 10.
And as for the issue of predictability, the well – known kid’s mag has that one covered as well.
The Scholastic Student Vote may not be official, but its results have often indicated who eventually wins the presidential race. Scholastic has conducted the student mock vote during every presidential election since 1940. The results of the student vote have mirrored the actual outcome of all but two elections—1948, when kids voted for Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman, and 1960, when they selected Richard M. Nixon over John F. Kennedy.
Now there are few things about these results that are both good news and bad news for both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama heading into these last three weeks. First, for Obama, children are little sponges, and while they may form their own opinions about fruit addicted white rabbits, their political opinions are usually direct reflections of their parents (unlike college aged kids who may start to veer a bit from Mom and Dad). If a kid is voting Obama that means Mom and Dad are voting Obama, and Mom and Dad are talking about voting for Obama in a positive way. So much for that mythical enthusiasm gap.
On the other hand, thanks to early voting (that thing the Republicans are trying their hardest to end across America) these kids cast their last ballots on October 10th. That’s roughly a week after the first Obama v.s. Romney debate; and the exact point when the election began to tighten due to Obama’s perceived poor performance. In fact, the popular vote numbers amongst these students are eerily reflective of pre-debate polls. Consequently it would be reasonable to assume that they have tightened post-debate as most polls have shown. Mom and Dad may not be talking so nice about Mr. Obama anymore. More importantly, some of the state by state breakdowns just don’t jive with electoral reality. I don’t care how enthusiastic kids are, or their parents, there is no way President Obama is going to beat Romney 54-42 in Arizona, 54-44 in Florida and 56-42 in South Carolina. However, if you give those states to Romney, along with Virginia, where students voted for a slim Romney win, Obama still wins the electoral – college and gets re-elected.
While there are still weeks to go in the race, these results do spell out a fairly tight but Obama leaning electorate across swing states and in the popular vote across America. Now to be fair, I’m willing to accept the remote possibility that elementary aged kids are making their own unique voting decisions. Maybe Romney has lost the kids vote because he wants to kill Big Bird and dissed Nickelodeon by refusing to show up or even answer online questions for the Kid’s Choice program (which almost every candidate has done for a zillion years). But these results are probably more simple than that. Despite the debate, and the sluggish economy, Mitt-Mania just hasn’t penetrated enough homes in a positive way to seep down to the kids. The race is still tiling towards Barack Obama, and the toddler vote has just reaffirmed that fact.
Dr. Jason Johnson, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, Politics Editor at the Source Magazine, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson