Market Overview

'VOTES' Students Sharply Divided on Iran and Energy Policy, Find Common Ground on Money in Politics – And First Two Debates


Just like the candidates battling for the White House, some of the nation's best and brightest secondary students hold sharply opposing views on a number of the most contentious issues in this year's campaign.

Especially if those issues have to do with energy.

That's one of the key findings of a new series of Blast polls in this year's national VOTES Project (Voting Opportunities for Teenagers in Every State), an initiative spearheaded by Northfield Mount Hermon (NMH), a prestigious private school in Massachusetts, and StudySync (, the web-based Common Core curriculum from BookheadEd Learning, LLC.

The only program of its kind in the country, the VOTES Project brings together more than 100 public and private schools nationwide, to give students a voice in the 2012 election. The most recent VOTES Project Blast polls, conducted throughout October, asked students to weigh in on hot topics in domestic and foreign policy. Blasts are short reading and writing assignments, using StudySync technology, that address timely topics of cultural significance.

In perhaps the thorniest question of the campaign season, students were asked the best approach to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons technology. A majority of the 637 respondents – 56.5 percent – expressed support for “position(ing) American military equipment and personnel in the region to demonstrate a willingness to strike if Iran does not cease its nuclear weapons program,” while 43.5 percent agreed that the U.S. should “continue to apply sanctions through the United Nations” and follow the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Students were even more divided on the matter of the Keystone Pipeline and U.S. energy policy overall. By the narrowest of margins – 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent of the 498 responses – VOTES students endorsed construction of the pipeline across the U.S. midsection.

Taking On the Campaign Itself

If students split on matters of oil and nukes, they were united – largely in opposition – to the expansive role of money in politics. When asked, “Should corporations, unions, and Super PACs be permitted to spend as much money as they want to support or oppose political candidates?” nearly three quarters of the 684 students polled – 73.4 percent – said no.

Student opinion of the first two presidential debates was in sync with the conventional wisdom, with 67.5 percent giving the October 3 debate to Romney and 61.5 percent judging President Obama the winner of the October 16 encounter.

NMH created VOTES 1988 and has run the program for all six presidential elections since then. In 2008, 60,000 students from every state in the nation cast ballots of their own and sent them to Northfield Mount Hermon a week before Election Day. The polls will wrap up just prior to Election Day, when students will select one of the two candidates.

For more on VOTES Project results, visit

About BookheadEd Learning, LLC

BookheadEd Learning connects high school and middle school students to the great ideas of mankind through technology, multimedia, and a rich library of classic and modern texts. To learn more about BookheadEd Learning and its StudySync educational platform, visit

About Northfield Mount Hermon

Northfield Mount Hermon, commonly referred to as NMH, is a co-educational independent boarding school for students in grades 9–12 and postgraduate. The school is located on the banks of the Connecticut River in western Massachusetts near Gill, Massachusetts.

Edge Communications, Inc. (StudySync)
Ken Greenberg, 323-469-3397
Northfield Mount Hermon
Cheri Cross, 413-498-3322

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