A majority of eSchool News readers favored a Democratic candidate over George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, and Howard Dean was the leading challenger among respondents, according to survey results released Jan. 27 by eSchool News.

The survey–which ended Jan. 26, one day before New Hampshire residents headed to the polls for the nation’s first state primary–was conducted on the eSchool News web site beginning Jan. 2. Nearly 700 school superintendents, technology directors, board members, teachers, media specialists, technology vendors, and other education stakeholders participated. The eSchool News poll is representative of those responding, but the results are not scientific, and educators who did not participate might have different presidential preferences.

Of those who did respond, however, 42 percent said they would vote for President Bush, and 58 percent supported one of his Democratic challengers. Former Vermont Gov. Dean led all challengers with 20 percent of the vote, followed by retired Gen. Wesley Clark (12 percent), Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (10 percent), and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards (5 percent).

Many of the votes were cast before the Jan. 20 Iowa caucuses, meaning a number of respondents weighed in before Kerry’s win in Iowa revived his campaign–and before Dean made headlines with his concession speech following his disappointing showing in that state.

Among the 221 respondents who indicated they were Republicans, 82 percent chose Bush, and 18 percent said they preferred a Democratic candidate. Of the 252 Democrats responding to the survey, only 8 percent said they would support Bush in this year’s election. Other respondents indicated party affiliations such as Independent, Libertarian, and Other.

Superintendents overwhelmingly favored Bush in the eSchool News primary (64 percent). Forty-four percent of teachers and just 40 percent of school and district technology coordinators favored the incumbent president. Men (47 percent) were more likely to support Bush than women (35 percent).

In a time of shrinking state budgets coupled with growing expectations for the nation’s schools, the 2004 presidential race has taken on even greater significance for school leaders. The outcome could shape what becomes of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), Bush’s signature education law, and what resources will be available to help schools meet the law’s stringent demands.

Several education groups have criticized Bush for not recommending more money to help schools comply with the law. The president also supports some measures, such as vouchers, that are unpopular among public school leaders.

Throughout his campaign, Dean has been an outspoken critic of NCLB for imposing what he calls rigid and unrealistic requirements, incentives for lowering standards, and an overreliance on testing. Dean’s home state, Vermont, is one of a handful of states where legislators have considered passing up federal education dollars so they would not have to comply with NCLB’s demands.

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