Whether it’s First Lady cookie bake-offs, 7-Eleven coffee drinkers, or Halloween mask sales, there have been any number of fun and admittedly crazy ways to predict the outcome of presidential elections in recent years.
But there’s also a longstanding and largely successful way to predict the nominee for the party not currently in the White House: Washington and Lee University’s mock political convention. From the New York Times:
“For a political culture awash with polls and punditry, the mock convention at Washington and Lee University offers one of the most meticulous and intriguing predictions of its kind, having successfully forecast the nominee of the party not in the White House in 19 of 25 attempts, including all but two since 1948.
The prediction is a serious matter on this history-soaked campus, where students have hosted a mock convention every four years since 1908. Designed to predict the nominee of the party not currently in the White House, it draws alumni and prominent politicians from around the country, engages students in a four-year planning and fund-raising effort, and has historically precipitated more than a fair share of celebratory parties, as well as an annual parade.”
Yet the convention – most recently held on Saturday, February 13th – is more than a day of fun and games. It’s the culmination of an intensive political learning process where students dig into election data and statistics for a couple of years in advance.
Such activities to build civic interest and involvement are wonderful, but should students be introduced to such things before they hit college?
According to the Nation’s Report Card, only 24% of 12th graders are considered proficient in civic knowledge. If we expect the next generation to responsibly take over the reins of government one day, shouldn’t schools spend more time training students on the principles of a free government?
Oh, and for the curious, if Washington and Lee students’ prediction accuracy holds true once again, the Republican nominee will most likely be Donald Trump.
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.