Kids voting and political knowledge: Narrowing gaps, informing votes

Patrick C. Meirick, Daniel B. Wackman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Kids Voting USA is a program designed to educate schoolchildren about the democratic process and foster their political socialization. This article set out to explore the consequences of the Kids Voting program for political knowledge, knowledge gaps, and attitude-behavior consistency. Methods. A sample of seventh and eighth graders in an urban school district were surveyed before (N = 385) and shortly after (N = 648) the 2000 general election. Results. Kids Voting exposure was positively related to political knowledge at Time 2 even after controlling for demographics, scholastic achievement, and attention to campaign news. There was no evidence that knowledge gaps widened between Time 1 and 2; in fact, African Americans and those with low initial knowledge gained the most. As political knowledge increased, party ID and issue attitudes became more predictive of candidate preference. Kids Voting exposure, too, was positively related to consistency between party ID and candidate preference, a relationship that was partially mediated by political knowledge. Conclusions. Political knowledge among these adolescents appeared to function much the way it does in adults: it equipped them to make political decisions that better reflected their attitudes. Kids Voting seems to contribute to this process, through knowledge and perhaps other avenues, without increasing knowledge gaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1177
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number5 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Dec 2004


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