2014 Exit Polling Recap

Here is some media coverage of this year’s exit polling activity on November 4, 2014. The Post and Courier featured a story on our exit polling on Election Night: “Exit poll good news for Gov. Nikki Haley, school and library referendums.” Channel 2 interviewed one of our exit polling groups at M. Pleasant Municipal Complex, and the result is a neat video and insightful article: “Kids exit poll Lowcountry voters.”Channel 5 News also spotlighted this experience for our students on their website: “Students, not old enough to vote, find success predicting election outcomes.” Click here for the full results of our 2014 Election Day Exit Polling.

Click here for a video explanation of our exploration of civics and exit polling.

We are a school, serving grades 3-12, that explores elections and the democratic process, and this means hearing from different candidates, learning about different parties, and exploring issues of governance and civics.  Exit polling is an annual endeavor at University School of the Lowcountry.  This enables students to see firsthand the ebb and flow of turnout rates for the different types of elections because of the pattern of Congressional (and occasionally statewide and more) races in even-numbered years and municipal elections in odd-numbered years.  The students have learned about the candidates, marketing, and the issues facing the community.  We also hosted US Sen. Tim Scott (Republican), Secretary of State candidate Ginny Deerin (Democratic), Governor candidate Steve French (Libertarian), and SC House District #114 candidate Sue Edward (Green) for presentations and question-answer sessions.   Our students have also explored the value of exit polling in terms of statistics, sample size, location of precincts, turnout differences for different types of elections, and the diversity of voters they will encounter.  These are great lessons for preparing our students to be active and informed participants in their country.

We administered exit polls at the following locations across Charleston County, garnering over 1600 (maximum of 100 per location) completed surveys:
National Guard Armory, Mt. Pleasant Municipal Complex, Isle of Palms Recreation Center, Sunrise Presbyterian on Sullivan’s Island, Brickyard Community Center, Moultrie Middle School, Christ Church, Wando High School, Seacoast Church, Greater Goodwill AME, Jones Recreation Center, Old Whitesides Elementary, Midland Park Primary School, St. John’s High School, James Island Charter High School, Lambs Elementary, Sanders-Clyde Elementary School, Mitchell Elementary School, Charleston Masonic Center, West Ashley Middle School, Mary Ford Elementary, Burke High School, Malcolm Hursey Elementary, and A.C. Corcoran Elementary.
Here are our predictions and some of our survey results:
A. Charleston County School District Sales Tax Referendum:
– Penny tax extension referendum passes overwhelmingly.  It was favored in all 24 polling locations.
71% in favor
29% opposed
B. Charleston County Library Bond Issuance for Construction/Renovation Referendum:
– Referendum for library renovation/construction passes overwhelmingly.  It was favored in all 24 polling locations.
77% in favor
23% opposed
C. Special question about the fate of the USS Clamagore Submarine at Patriots Point:
– “The submarine USS Clamagore is slated to be moved from Patriots Point to Florida this year to become an artificial reef, leaving the nearest sub museums in Mobile, AL and Baltimore, MD.  Do you want the elected officials in S.C. to create a solution so it can stay?”

In favor, 72%
Opposed, 28%
It was favored in all 24 polling locations.  This issue has popped up intermittently in the news the last two years, but it is hoped that South Carolina’s elected officials will take note of the overwhelming sentiment of voters about the submarine Clamagore and devise a solution so it can remain at Patriots Point or in the Lowcountry.

D. Governor’s race results for Charleston County:
Nikki Haley (R) 56.1 %
Vincent Sheheen (D) 39.6%
Steve French (L) 2.6%
Ervin (Petition) 1%
Reeves (UC) .2%
Write-In/None .6%

E. Lieutenant Governor’s race results for Charleston County:
Henry McMaster (R) 56%
Bakari Sellers (D) 42%
Write-In/None 2%

F. Secretary of State race results for Charleston County:
Mark Hammond (R) 55%
Ginny Deerin (D) 42.2%
Write-In/None 2.8%
G.  Charleston County School Board – East Cooper – Pick Two:
Kate Darby and Chris Staubes are the top 2 vote recipients in 22 of the 24 precincts.
Kate Darby 45.7%
Chris Staubes 34%
Sarah Shad Johnson 18%

H.  Charleston County School Board – North Area – Pick One:
Coats is re-elected.
Cindy Bohn Coats 53%
Kelvin D. Curtis 23.9%
Shante Ellis 19.9%

Write-In 3.2%
I.  Charleston County School Board – West Ashley – Pick One:
Mack is elected to the School Board.

Edward C. Fennell 41.7%

Eric C. Mack 51.3%
Write-In 7.1%

*** Part 2 includes survey data about area municipalities and the major issues facing them according to voters.  It will be emailed later this evening.

Here is a feature story about our exit polling program from the Charleston City Paper (“Across Charleston County, students run a serious exit poll”).

Here is a quick overview of University School’s approach to politics and the election process.  We believe in learning by doing and seeing for ourselves, and we follow and analyze government, elections, and political parties and ideas at all levels.  From the School’s founding, this has been an ongoing theme of Morning Meeting, Leadership and Life Skills, and our Learning Outside the Classroom program, and events and analysis also routinely emerge in other courses and activities.

Sample overview – Ginny Deerin presentation on October 3
Secretary of State candidate Ginny Deerin spoke and answered questions this morning for around an hour.  Thanks to parents, students, and teachers for the early arrival!  She spoke about Project XX, which she co-founded to get more women involved in government in South Carolina.  She also explained her views, why she is running, and how she is conducting her campaign.  She was engaging, and the students had more questions for her than time allowed!  I have posted some pictures on our Facebook page, and the notes from her presentation (and for all guest speakers) can be found on the L&L page on Moodle.

Here is the prep the students looked at on Moodle in advance of her talk:

website for Ginny Deerin for Secretary of State

website for the SC State Government Office – Secretary of State

Charleston City Paper article on Ginny Deerin’s Project XX organization “S.C. public university boards have an X chromosome shortage” (4/17/2013)

Students Engaging in the Election Process
University School embraces the learning opportunities found in elections because of the opportunity it allows us to help prepare informed and engaged American citizens. Our goal will be to conduct exit polling on Election Day (as we do for all elections), and we have already begun building towards this goal for November:

  • We watch CNN Student News daily and/or review major news sites to stay on top of the issues of the day.
  • We examine and review candidates’ websites, especially in terms of visual literacy, as we see how candidates seek to present themselves and engage the public.
  • We analyze the ballot for upcoming elections.  This year the ballot is 7 pages long and includes local, statewide, and federal elections.  There are also  proposed amendments to the state Constitution and 2 referendums for proposed tax increases (for Charleston County).  We’ve explained that this could lead to long lines at the polls (which can have the unfortunate effect of deterring citizens from voting and underscores the importance of voters to have prepared in advance to cast their ballot as efficiently as possible).
  • We will host candidates from a range of political parties and other relevant speakers (below is the list we expect to host over the next month – please check, but we should have room for any parents interested in hearing any of these candidates below):
    • Ginny Deerin – Secretary of State candidate – Democrat and co-founder of Project XX (get more women in government)
    • Sue Edward – S.C. House District #114 candidate – Green Party
    • Steve French – Governor candidate – Libertarian Party
    • Jill Bossi – US Senate candidate (for the unexpired term for the seat held by Tim Scott) – American Party
    • Tim Scott – US Senator – Republican (or another Republican if we can’t make this work)
  • We learn to be active and informed citizens by scrutinizing claims and attacks (using the non-partisan www.factcheck.org where possible) and learning to evaluate the perspective of newspapers, magazines, and journals.
  • We discuss changes in election laws and process over time in America.
  •  We’ll conduct exit polls in Charleston County (and perhaps Berkeley County) in November. This will allow the students to see the wide and rich array of perspectives and opinions that exist in the Lowcountry and get a first-hand look at the democratic process in action.  Our examination of the polling data will continue after the election as we explore the use of exit polls to predict results.  On Wednesday, November 5, we’ll then compare the results of our exit polls to actual results.  You can see an example here of our results from the 2013 municipal elections, including the lead Election Night article from the Post and Courier — “School’s exit poll predicts Linda Page will be Mount Pleasant’s next mayor“), following upon similar endeavors we undertook during prior elections  It is a great learning activity about mathematics, statistics, and the democratic process for us all.  Doing it yearly also enables students to see firsthand the ebb and flow of turnout rates for the different types of elections, etc.

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