The Campaign Spot

They Only Have Obama Up By 2, But Is the Nick Poll As Predictive As It Used To Be?

The Nickelodeon Kids’ Poll is one of those polls that is always interesting to keep an eye on. For a long time, the thinking was, kids reflect what they hear from their parents, and the sort of thing they might hear from Mom and Dad are the sorts of things Mom and Dad might not tell a pollster. And in its first four cycles (1988-2000) the poll picked the correct winner.

But in 2004, the Nickelodeon poll results were… Kerry 57, Bush 43. And as we all know, results were pretty different.

And in fact, they picked Bush to win with 55 percent in 2000. That was a bit off, too.

In 1996, their margin was right, but their split was wrong — Clinton received 45 of the vote, Bob Dole captured 37 and 18 went to Ross Perot. (Perot got 8 percent, if I remember correctly.)

In 1992, “Clinton edged out Bush by only 286 votes out of 748,677 votes cast.” Clinton’s margin was about 5 percent.

UPDATE: Campaign Spot reader James asks good questions:

That is a huge sample — Obama 51% (1,167,087), McCain 49% (1,129,945)… — and it is much closer than I would have thought.  It is true that kids are thought to vote their parents’ preference, generally.  But if they are not voting their parents’ preference, it is hard to credit that there would be big numbers choosing McCain where their parents are Obama supporters.  Now there might have been a big McCain push with adults casting votes, but I doubt it.  And it might be that the sample omits a lot of African Americans who might not watch as much Nickelodeon or who aren’t as likely to vote online, but you figure that would also have been true for the Kerry numbers in 2004.  Forget its predictive value.  If this is remotely an apples to apples comparison to the 2004 poll, the Obama people should be very concerned with this.  Or am I missing something?

The questions made me wonder how parents split for Bush vs. Kerry in 2004, according to the exit polls. On the question, do you have children under 18, 37 percent of the electorate answered ‘yes,’ and Bush won those voters, 53 percent to 45 percent.

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