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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Kids Pick Kerry to Be the Next President?

Yahoo! News reports that the Nickelodeon network on-line polls says Kids Pick Kerry to Be the Next President.

Regardless of their alleged track record, such polls should be taken with a grain of salt. Apparently LInda Ellerbee, the host of this exercise, does not remember the famous Collier's (correction: Literary Digest) poll that wrongly predicted Dewey (correction: Landon) would beat Truman (correction: Roosevelt (he would have, if Collier (Literary Digest) readers were the only voters, but they weren't). In any event, all the on-line instant polls have shown that they are exceptionally easy to manipulate, especially since there is no effective way to screen out multiple votes and to determine who it is who is doing the voting.

More bothersome to me is the quote from Ellerbee (who I used to admire) concerning the the last presidential election:
Kids aren't dumb, they're just younger and shorter," she said. "In fact, last election, a boy came up to me and said, `We picked George Bush to win, and he didn't really win. Al Gore won the popular vote, so we were kinda wrong.' Quite an observation.


Looks like she missed her chance to explain the workings of the Electoral College to this misguided youth. What a shame to miss such a "teachable moment."

Update: Well, my memory was off. It was a Literary Digest poll in the 1936 election. See this. Ooops.

Update: Scholastic which also claims a pretty good track record in predicting presidential elections says that Bush will win 52% to 47% for Kerry:
Since 1940, Scholastic Classroom Magazines have given students the opportunity to cast their vote for president in the Scholastic Election Poll (online voting was added in 2000). In every election, but two, the outcome of the Scholastic Election Poll mirrored the outcome of the general election. The exceptions were in 1948 when students chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman and in 1960 when more students voted for Richard M. Nixon than John F. Kennedy. In 2000, student voters chose George W. Bush, mirroring the Electoral College result but not the result of the popular vote.
Hat tip: Best of the Web

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