HARVARD -- Bromfield School current events teacher Kathleen Doherty and senior and AP statistics student Drew Banker offered the Harvard School Committee some insight into this year's mock election data at their meeting Tuesday night.
Banker said that the purpose of the mock election was to raise awareness about current events. Students were encouraged to register to vote via student projects -- posters and campaign presentations for both the candidates and the three ballot questions.
"I visited many homerooms, and even the very young kids are really politically knowledgeable and involved," said Banker. "I even started a couple of debates in a couple of classes by accidet. One kid yells out 'Obama!' and another says, 'Are you kidding?'"
Banker said that he had to explain who the senate candidates were to the younger students, but that the seventh- and eight-grade students were, not surprisingly, more knowledgeable.
"For my project, I did a debate in class with a friend," said Banker. "I was (vice presidential candidate Paul) Ryan, and he was (vice president) Joe Biden. It was fun. It was very lively. It was actually like the real debate, with a lot of talking and not much listening."
Banker said that he could see how hard it is not to talk more than listen during a debate, because one wants to get his or her points across in a short amount of time.
Exit Polling Used to Predict Outcome
Dr. Julie Horton's statistics class took the percentage of students who registered, and matched that data to that of eligible registered voters across the U.S. They also did exit polling and used that information to find certain correlations.
Banker said that in his exit polling, he would ask students their grade levels, for whom they voted, and the priorities on which they based their votes. He reported that those who supported President Barack Obama were more focused on social issues; those supporting presidential candidate Mitt Romney voted more on the economy.
According to Doherty, preliminary results from Horton's statistics class indicate that the girls, particularly the seniors, tend to be slightly more influenced by policy than the boys. More than 50 percent of middle school students said that they were not influenced by any one specific policy; however, older students were more influenced by economic policy.
Banker added that a couple of groups of students are still working on data correlations with graphs.
"I am looking at the correlation between gender and which candidate they voted for more," he said. "We figured more boys would vote for (Sen.) Scott Brown, which turned out to be true, but only by about 10 percent.
"It was just really fun to see the kids turn out that day," he added. "It was a really big turnout."
Overall, 63 percent of students registered to vote. Of those, 87 percent actually voted. In Harvard, said Doherty, the percentage of registered voters who cast ballots was about 88 percent.
"We predicted that Obama would take 57 percent and Brown 59 percent, but Obama took 59 and Brown 57. So we were off only by two percent," Banker said proudly.
Close to the Real Thing
The mock election operated very much like a real election, mistakes and all.
"Poll workers tallied the vote and we were actually off by one and we had to find which batch it was in," Doherty explained.
The following day (the students) posted the votes. Romney had 35 percent, (Green Party candidate Jill) Stein two percent, and there was a write-in for Herman Cain."
Brown won 57 percent of the vote at the school, but only 46 percent in the Harvard town election.
Students in grades 8-12, who voted on the ballot issues, approved all three by high margins. Harvard voters also approved all (four) ballot measures by significant margins.