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Tosa students predict election results, again

Nov. 7, 2012

Students at Wauwatosa West High School have predicted the last five state and national elections through their mock elections. This year's mock election, held the week of Oct. 22, saw not only a President Barack Obama and Tammy Baldwin victory, but teamwork and bipartisanship.

The mock election was held by West teacher Rob Kalpinski's AP government class and had Obama winning with 61 percent of the vote. The election also had more than 1,000 campaign signs made and a 62.5 percent voting participation rate among students.

"They listened, they debated respectfully and I really couldn't ask for a better campaign," Kalpinski said.

The mock election was run by three teams: a 10-person Republican team, a 13-person Democrat team and a 12-person poll worker team. The Republican and Democrats were given a simple task: beat the other team. The poll workers also were given a simple challenge: get out the vote and administer the election.

Both sides worked overtime. Each spent hours after school, before school and during lunches to get out the vote for their respective candidates. Students created Facebook pages, staffed information tables and campaigned for their candidate weeks before the election.

While some campaign signs were torn down by students, both sides worked to end the vandalism. Much of the work done was a uniting force for the two teams.

Annie Albers, a senior on the poll team, said: "You'd think the people with their views wouldn't be able to get along. We don't pick each other apart, and we're not rude."

The Republican team had a hard challenge ahead of them. When asked who they thought would win the mock election, the answer from all sides was resoundingly "Obama."

Before the campaign, the poll worker team, some of which administered the actual election, held a poll that predicted a 73-27 victory for Obama. The Republican team was able to raise Romney by nine points before the vote.

The students held two mock debates in the lunchroom, an act unheard of in the past eight years of Kalpinski's class. The debates were moderated by the poll team and all the questions were written by the students. Roughly 100 students watched the mock debates during their lunches.

The students also learned about the Electoral College, with 48 homerooms and the two AP classes acting as states. Early voting also was simulated, with voting beginning the Friday before Mock Election Day.

Kalpinski lamented that he didn't shoot a video of his student's campaign to send to the national candidates to show them how a civil election should be held.

He added: "A Republican student said the Tammy Baldwin spin-a-candidate commercial was ridiculous and was insulting to her intelligence. These negative ads and the mudslinging, they're tired of it. They're ready for them to stop doing it. They see both candidates as childish."

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