Friday, October 22, 2004

Kerry wins with voters who've never been wrong: Kids!

Go kids! Go kids!

Inquirer Columnist

Democrat John Kerry rules the 14-and-under crowd. And that might be a bigger deal than you think.

Kerry scored 57 percent of the vote to President Bush's 43 percent in Nickelodeon's "Kids Pick the President" online mock election Tuesday. About 400,000 youngsters voted.

Did we mention that the Nick event, launched in 1988, has never been wrong?

"It's become a legitimate bellwether poll," says Linda Ellerbee, whose Nick News specials began focusing in March on the presidential candidates and their issues.

How legitimate? "I can only say that since '88, the kids have picked the candidate who became president two weeks before the grown-ups did," Ellerbee says.

"I'm not a pollster or a statistician, but my best guess is that kids, for the most part, are voting the way their parents vote. The grown-ups may want to pay attention."

Aside from providing a presidential "winner," the Nick election serves a more important function, says Ellerbee.

"The point is to get kids interested in the process early, with the idea that if they practice voting when they're young, they'll be more likely to go out and vote, for real, when they're older."

The mock election's 1.000 batting average "is the cherry on the sundae."

Ellerbee is not a huge fan of electoral polls, particularly at this time of year in a close presidential race. New numbers are issued virtually every day.

"If polls are so accurate, why are there so many of them? It's been fairly confusing to me. I've simply decided not to pay attention to any of them. My life is a lot less complicated now."

As for her presidential preference, "the wonderful thing about the ballot box is that it's secret," Ellerbee says. "As a journalist, I do not take part in partisan politics."

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