PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. — Just days before Americans choose our next president, voting has concluded in the Weekly Reader Student Presidential Election Poll. And the nation's students resoundingly say that Barack Obama will be the country's next leader.
In the 14th Weekly Reader election survey, with more than 125,000 votes cast from kindergarten through 12th grade, the result was Obama 54.7% and John McCain 42.9% (with "other" candidates receiving 2.5% of the student vote).
The Obama victory in the classroom electoral vote was even more resounding: The Democrat won 33 states and the District of Columbia, garnering 420 electoral votes, while McCain took 17 states and 118 electoral votes.
For the past 52 years, the results of the Weekly Reader poll have been consistently on target, with the student vote correctly predicting the next president in 12 out of 13 elections. (The only time the kids were wrong was 1992, when they chose George H.W. Bush over Bill Clinton.)
This year, as in 2000 and 2004, the student election was conducted in conjunction with noted polling organization Zogby International.
Below are more thought-provoking, and perhaps prescient, results from the Weekly Reader Student Presidential Election Poll: While the election results may appear one-sided, they actually were extraordinarily close in many places. In three states, less than a tenth of a percentage point separated the winning ticket from the losing one. Iowa and Missouri were the states where Obama barely squeaked by, while in North Dakota, McCain won by the same slim margin. Most, but not all, swing states went to Obama. The Democrat took Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. McCain won Minnesota and New Hampshire, each by a surprisingly wide 8 points, as well as North Carolina in a 4.6% victory over Obama. McCain took Republican strongholds Alabama, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. Obama romped in the deep blue states of California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, and the District of Columbia. The Democratic candidate had a few startling triumphs-such as sweeping the vote in the Republican slate's two home states of Alaska and Arizona, registering a big win in Georgia, receiving 82% of the student vote in Nevada, gaining a 34-point win in Mississippi, and logging a 10% victory over McCain in George W. Bush's home state of Texas. Obama was the victor in every grade-except grade 10, which chose McCain. The results were the tightest in the 11th grade, where Obama slid by with a 1.5% victory, followed by second grade, where Obama won by a margin of 1.8%. The widest spread appeared in the ninth grade, where Obama's gigantic 85.6% beat McCain's 12.4% - a whopping 73.2% margin!
"Historically, our poll has been an amazing indicator of the presidential race's outcome, so we're all waiting with great anticipation to see what happens on Election Day," said Neal Goff, President of Weekly Reader.
"Throughout the past few months, we've delivered cutting-edge multimedia election materials directly to schools so that students could cast an informed vote. We're excited to have given kids this important forum to express their opinions about who should be the next president."
In addition to reporting the results of their in-class elections, teachers passed along enthusiastic comments from their students about the impact of participating in the Weekly Reader Student Presidential Election:"This is history being made!" "I will always remember this. It's nice to have my vote counted!" "Even though I am not 18, my voice is being heard." "I like McCain because he loves pets like I do." "I want to be president. I am going to be president. If Obama can run for president, so can I." (Comment from a Hispanic second-grade boy.)
Teachers also contributed to the thousands of comments. One reported that, "Before we voted and as we were discussing the candidates, each 'side' spontaneously started chanting the name of the candidate they wanted to win."
Another teacher proudly noted this benefit to the Weekly Readerelection: "We talked about the importance of voting and the duty that we have as American citizens. What a great experience!"