My partner Tina came home from the school where teaches today with the results of the Youth Leadership Initiative’s 2008 Mock Election. Both her school and my son Zack’s school are in the same Independent School District here in Texas (Keller ISD in Tarrant County) and both of their classes voted along with the rest of the schools a week or so ago. The three of us sat down with the results over dinner tonight.
The National Totals gave our household the most to smile about as Barack Obama grabbed 60% of the youth vote to McCain’s 35%. Obama also won Texas! Yes, you read that correctly! Barack Obama won the youth vote in Texas 55% to 42% over McCain and Obama won in my partner Tina’s school 539 votes to 450 votes. My son was bummed out that McCain won his school 497 votes to 379 votes, but Tina’s school is racially and economically diverse while my son’s school is much less so and I’d wager my son’s school being richer and whiter has at least a bit to do McCain’s victory there. McCain also won our school district in north Texas 60% to 40% which is over the polling average (12 points) in McCain’s favor for the state.
There’s a lot to be hopeful about if you’re an Obama supporter with the results of this national mock student election. Young people have been drawn to Obama since the beginning of the campaign. School aged young people, tend to reflect their parent’s politics and thus mock vote the way their parents do – this isn’t always true, but it is a generality you can apply with some measure of safety the younger the person. The sample is large and conducted by a legitimate source.
The Youth Leadership Initiative’s Mock Election is conducted by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. This year, according to their web posted news release three million votes were cast by students in grades one through twelve from across the country, Guam and Department of Defense Schools. The YLI is careful to point out that the mock election is not a scientific survey, but an academic exercise designed to teach students about the democratic process. That said however, one need only look at the mock student election held each year by Scholastic. Although much smaller than the YLI mock election, Scholastic’s election with 250,000 votes this year has quite a record of matching the actual outcome of the real election. Failing only in 1948 and 1960. The YLI uses a bigger sample and is conducted by a political educational insitution. I’m feeling safer with their results being a mirror than Scholastic and Scholastic has been on target almost every time.
Another interesting item about the YLI mock election is that it asked students what they though the most important issue facing the country is at this time. The economy was the national choice, our state choice in Texas, and our school district’s choice.
It’s said that the only poll that really counts is the one taken at the ballot box and although their votes aren’t counted because they are under age, our children have spoken. I pray we follow their lead.