Tea leaves? High schoolers select Obama

A mock election of the nation’s high school students has declared President Barack Obama this year’s winner.

The VOTES (Voting Opportunities for Teenagers in Every State) Project is a nationwide mock election for high schoolers across the nation. This year, VOTES polled 54,000 students from more than 130 schools, at least two from each state and the District of Columbia.

In all, Obama received 316 electoral votes and Republican nominee Mitt Romney received 208. Of the popular vote, Obama received 50.2 percent (27,107 votes), and Romney garnered 41.2 percent (22,252 votes).

The VOTES Project did not distribute 14 electoral votes because five schools in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania were not able to hold elections due to Hurricane Sandy.

Started in 1988 by two high school history teachers from Northfield Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts, the students’ mock election has predicted the winner accurately every year except 2004 — when students chose Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry over President George W. Bush.

“The VOTES Project has proven to be a remarkably effective and fun way of teaching our high school students about the electoral process in the United States,” said VOTES co-creator Jim Shea. “The hands-on mock election experience allows teenagers to be active participants in learning and political process rather than merely passive observers.”

In October the Scholastic Student Vote also predicted an Obama win. Scholastic’s poll has accurately predicted the presidential outcome since 1940 except for 1948 when the students voted for Thomas Dewey rather than the winner Harry Truman and 1960 when they elected Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy.

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