Congressional Election Dysfunction

If a politician outspends their opponent in a U.S. congressional election, how likely are they to win?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What is the big story the first chart, Chances of Winning, tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of this?

  6. According to the first chart, on election day, if I know who has outspent their opponent, I can predict with a 91% accuracy who will win the seat. Is this good news?

  7. According to the second chat, Source of Funds, where does the biggest portion of the money spent on these elections come from?

  8. Democracy means, among other things, that each person has equal political power, is the data from the second chart good or bad news for democracy?

  9. Which of those types of donors would you and your family be classified as?

  10. According to the third chart, Average Money Spent, how much did the average winner outspend the average loser?

  11. Where does most of the money that politicians spend go?

  12. The title of the entire graphic is, how money wins elections. To summarize, in a short concise statement: how does money win elections?

Learning Extension

Read the very short and very sweet Vox story on money in politics

Action Extension

Use Open Secrets' Get Local tool to learn more about where your US representative and Senators get their money. Share your findings with class or online.