Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Teens Know ... About the 2012 Election

Yes, I know, the headline above reads like the setup to a punch line.  What do teens know?  Not a helluva lot.  Still, some enterprising journalists set out to discover what teens know about the 2012 election.

The most likely response?
“I support whatever my parents do because they understand more about politics than I do.”
Their "survey" was of students enrolled in four advanced English high school classes in the Council Rock School District of Pennsylvania (sad note, school is out due to damage from Sandy).  While it's hardly a generalizable sample, they asked students 13 questions that ran the "gamut of knowledge" from basic to the advanced.

Students did well on throwaway questions on identifying the president, the vice president, the Republican challenger, and (less well) his VP running mate.  Only half knew which party controlled the House, which is about right -- even if you guess, there are only two parties, so half is unsurprising.

My favorite -- they presented students with a picture of John Boehner, the Speaker of the House.  Only 14 percent gave his name, party and title.  Only 15 percent could name one of their state's two U.S. senators.

Okay, are we picking on the brats?  A little.  To be honest, they didn't do so poorly compared to the levels of knowledge demonstrated by the general U.S. public, especially given most if not all of the students aren't even voters yet, and so they have strong motivation to follow politics at a high level. 

In other words, the kids did okay.

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