Build a Candidate

AP US Government and Politics

According to polls, which of the following traits would be the biggest liability for a US presidential candidate: past marijuana use, being gay or lesbian, Mormon, Muslim, or atheist?

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprising was the information in the chart?

  3. How will this information be different for the 2028 election?

  4. Explain whether this information is good news.

  5. Consider all the traits in the chart and evaluate whether each trait would make your vote for a candidate more likely, less likely, or wouldn't matter:

  6. How different was your evaluation of presidential traits from that of the average American's?

  7. What questions do you have about the chart?

  8. The 2016 election was certainly a surprise for a lot of people. How much did the outcome of the 2016 election deviate from what your would expect based on the data in the chart?

  9. How much do you think that the election of Donald Trump (outsider, non-religious, had financial troubles, had affairs, etc.) will impact  the type of future Democratic or Republican candidates who run for office?

  10. List two generalizations you can make about American presidential trait preferences from the information in the chart:

  11. Do you think that the fact that presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is a homosexual will hurt his chances to be president more than the fact that he is only 37?

  12. In the comments section, using the information from the chart, create an extremely unelectable presidential candidate:

Visual Extension


Action Extension

Do one of the following:

  1. Contact the Democratic National Party or the Republican National Party and give them five pieces of advice on nominating a presidential candidate based on the information in the chart:

  2. Write a letter to the American people telling them what they are wrong about regarding their desired traits for presidential candidates. Post it on social media or send it to your local newspaper (if you still have one).

  3. Make a poster or flyer or video advertisement for the unelectable presidential candidate you created in question 9 above.

Learning Extension

Read the entire Pew report on presidential candidate traits.

Our World In Data Extension


Our Animals in Drag Extension


Senate So White

White Americans are better represented in the U.S. Senate than any other racial group. What group has the least representation?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. Explain why this racial disparity in representation exists?

  4. What is one consequence of this disparity?

  5. In a democracy, all people are supposed to be equal. Does this chart show that all people in America are equal?

  6. Describe a connection between the data from this chart and the Connecticut Compromise.

  7. What could remedy the inequality described in the chart?

  8. Should we remedy this inequality?

  9. The author of the editorial the above chart comes from proposes that D.C. and Puerto Rico become states. How would that impact the data from the chart?

  10. Descibe one policy change that would likely happen if all racial groups in America were represented equally?

  11. One students responded to this chart by making the claim that it doesn’t matter what race of politician represents a state or district as long as they do what is best for the country. Respond to this claim.

  12. What story does the chart below tell?

Learning Extension

Read David Leonhardt’s NYTimes editorial, The Senate: Affirmative Action for White People to learn a bit more about how racial disparities in politics works.

Action Extension

Read the comments on David Leonhardt’s NYTimes editorial, The Senate: Affirmative Action for White People then leave your own comment.

Political Animal Extension

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A Woman's Place Is In The House...Of Representatives

AP US Government and Politics

Which three states have never had a woman representative in the House or the Senate?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprised are you by this information?

  3. How did your own state and district do in regards to female representation?

  4. What story does the map tell?

  5. Do you notice any big geographical patterns in the map?

  6. Explain whether this is a happy map or a sad map.

  7. Why do you think these three states have never had any representation?

  8. What is one consequence of never having elected a female for these three states?

  9. Vermont and Mississippi are about as politically and culturally different as any two states could be. Why do you think they both agree on not having female representatives?

  10. It's been said that the gender of the politician isn't important, what matters are the policies they fight for. In the comments section, explain whether you think this statement is true:

Learning Extension

Check out this great article and interactive map at Vox where you can find out about female representation in your own state and ditrict.

Action Extension

Vote for a woman or convince someone else to vote for a woman. Better yet, lobby your political party (Emily's List for liberals, the NFRW for conservatives) to run women for office. Or best of all, if you are a woman, run for office.

Bonus Maps

This is Not My Beautiful House

AP US Government and Politics

How closely does the US Congress demographically mirror the American people?

Source: Good

  1. What most surprised you about this chart?

  2. What story does this chart tell?

  3. Why do you think the chart is the way it is?

  4. In what way is Congress demographically least representative?

  5. Why does Congress not more accurately mirror the US?

  6. Who does Congress represent?

  7. Who benefits the most from this demographically unrepresentative congress?

  8. Write your own question about this chart:

  9. This data is from the 113th congress. How do you think this information was different in the 1st Congress and how will it be different in the 120th Congress?

  10. In the comments section, describe your version of what the ideal congress would look like.

Learning Extension

Check out this Guardian interactive to find out how much Congress looks like you

Action Extension

Crowdsource your friends for a list of ways to make the US Congress more representative of the US. Share your best idea in class, online or tweet it to @UsGoPoPro


This Long American Life

AP US Government and Politics

What was U.S. life expectancy at birth in 1900?

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What was the most surprising thing about this chart?

  3. According to this chart how does your life expectancy compare to your parents' and your grandparents'?

  4. What is the big story in this chart?

  5. Why do you think life expectancy has risen so high, so fast?

  6. Based on the chart, what do you predict U.S. life expectancy will be in 2100 right about when you hit 100?

  7. What is a consequence of growing life expectancy in the US?

  8. Is there any downside of longer life expectancy in the US?

  9. How do you think U.S. life expectancy compares to that of extremely poor countries like Myanmar or Sierra Leon?

  10. What the heck happened in 1918 to make life expectancy decline so dramatically?

  11. In the comments section, discuss how increased life expectancy affects the U.S. political system:

Learning Extension

Read the National Institute on Aging's report on life expectancy before time runs out!

Action Extension

Increasing life expectancy is a good thing, but along with aging, come certain problems for individuals and nations. Some experts have argued that we must increase immigration to help deal with our aging native-born population. Others say that because of our aging population we will have to change the terms of our social security program. Contact your president and explain three steps the federal government should take to deal with our aging population:

Visual Extension

What do you think life expectancy was like in all parts of the world about 1000 years ago?

This is your Life

At what age does the average American woman have her first child?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What was most surprising about this chart?

  3. Plot yourself on this chart:

  4. Which of the landmarks on the chart do you not expect to achieve?

  5. How different do you think this entire chart would look in Sierra Leon (see Life expectancy in Sierra Leon at age 47 mark)?

  6. What is the best news on this chart?

  7. What is the worst news on this chart?

  8. In the comments section describe how different you believe this chart will be in 50 years?

Learning Extension

Read the entire article and look at all the pretty charts at Wait But Why.

Action Extension

Make a large scale copy of this chart by hand and post it on the wall of a school hallway where lots of people will see it with a note encouraging them to write their own landmarks onto the chart.

Regions with 1 Billion Inhabitants

¿What is the world's current POPULATION (within one billion)?

Map of the world divided into seven regions of a BILLION people each.


  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What SURPRISES you most about this map?

  3. Which is the BIGGEST & which is the smallest region by area?

  4. What question do you have about this map?

  5. Does population = power?

  6. How do you imagine this map is going to CHANGE over the next 20 years?

  7. In 1804 the earth passed the MILESTONE of 1 billion people. In other words, this entire map, for the year 1800, would have been one color. How many colors do you think we'll have by 2100?

  8. By 2040 it's predicted that this map will have 10 colors (meaning 10 billion people). Why do you think the world's population is increasing so much?

  9. And what do you think is one consequence of that increase?

  10. In the comments section explain why this map make you feel FUZZY (happy) or PRICKLY (anxious):

Learning & Action Extension

Read the U.S. State Department's official policy on global population and contact Secretary of State John Kerry to explain your opinion of this policy:

Learning Extension Extension

Check out the three UN predictions for the population in 2100 in the chart below.

How old will you be in 2100?

Church and State and Church and State

AP U.S Government and Politics

GoPo Pro

Imagine the entire population of the U.S. is 100 people. Out of 100, what number of Americans would be Muslim?

AP U.S. Government and Politics

AP U.S. Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What surprised you most about these numbers?

  3. Based on these numbers, what generalization could you make about religion in American?

  4. Based on the data from this chart, would it be accurate to call the United States a Christian nation?

  5. If you were running for President of the United States and you had never been a religious person, but you needed to choose a religion to pretend to be to make the most people vote for you, what religion would you chose, and do you think it would work?

  6. How do you think these numbers have changed in the last fifty years and in the last 10 years?*

  7. How different do you think these numbers will be in the future?**

  8. How do you think the fact that 71% of all Americans are Christians impacts American politics?

  9. Is it reasonable to think that a country that is 71% Christian is going to have a high wall of separation between church and state?

  10. Fact: one out of every 100 Americans is Muslim. What do you think the average American would guess that number is?

  11. Fact: 23% of Americans are non-religious (unaffiliated). How do you think this growing number influences American politics?

  12. Of all the American religious (and non-religious) groups listed above which do you think the is most reliably Republican and which is the most reliably Democratic?***

Visual Extension*





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Frequency of feeling wonder about the universe by political party.png
Belief in Hell by political party.png


Learning Extension

The Pew Research Center has a great interactive map where you can look at the specifics of religious affiliation in your state. Check it out!

Action Extension

Talk to someone of a different religious background from your own and try to understand how their religion impacts their politics. Share your finding in class or online.

Our World In Data Extension

Animals In Clothes Extension


Let Religious Freedom Ring

What portion of Americans age 18-29 are not affiliated with any religion?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story this chart tells?

  3. In your opinion, is the data from the chart good news?

  4. What is the most significant trend (changes, differences between age groups,etc) in the data?

  5. Describe the main cause of that trend.

  6. What is the most significant consequence of that trend on American politics?

  7. Which age group from the chart above did the Framers look most like?

  8. Which age group from the chart above do Republicans look most like?

  9. Which age group from the chart above do Democrats look most like?

  10. Draw a column on the chart for America age 0-17. Based on the trends from this chart above, what do you think this youngest group of Americans would look like religiously?

  11. Is the religious makeup of the U.S. Congress more similar to 18-29 year olds or to 50-64 year olds?

  12. Why do you think that is?

  13. If the Congress was as religiously diverse as young America (age 18-35) how would the policies it makes be different?

  14. How much does your classroom or your school look like the data in the chart for Americans age 18-29?

    Visual Extension

Learning Extension

Read this FiveThirtyEight piece on changing religious demographics in America

Action Extension

Print out the “Generational Shift” chart above. Research the religious demographics of your school or your town and draw in a column for that data on the chart. Post the chart in your school (bulletin board, school newspaper, on a poster in the hall) or online.

Random but wonderful bonus visuals

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Separated at Birth Extension

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116th Congress

How many Millennials are in the 116th House of Representatives?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this graphic tell about age?

  3. Why do you think the Congress is (overall) so old?

  4. Explain whether you think the fact that Congress is older than America is a good or bad thing.

  5. In addition to age, these interactive 116th Congress graphics, include demographics on sexual orientation, race, gender and party of the 116th Congress. Which of these areas was most surprising?

  6. How might a typical American liberal and conservative disagree about the data above.

  7. Explain whether millennials are more likely to be liberals or conservatives and why.

  8. The youngest ever female member of the House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) was just elected this year. She is 29. Why do you think people in her district elected such a young person (she was in high school just a decade ago!)?

  9. The youngest member of the U.S. Senate, Tom Cotton, is 37. Why do you think the youngest Senator is so much older than the youngest Representative?

  10. There will be more women, women of color, openly LGBT members, and millennials serving in the House than ever before. Explain whether this is a good or a bad thing.

  11. Imagine that the number of Baby Boomers in the House was 26, and the number of millennials in the House was 234 (completely switched). How would that impact legislation in Congress?

  12. Why do you think they call the House of Representatives, “The People’s House”?

  13. How different do you thin these percentages would be in the US Senate?

  14. Describe how different you think today’s Congress is from the 1960 Congress?

  15. What is the first year you could legally be elected to the House (must be 25) and the Senate (must be 30)?

Learning Extension

Read 12 Records the 2018 Elections Smashed

Action Extension

Most older members of Congress are just adjusting to email! Young members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley not only have Twitter feeds, they are known to interact with people who tweet them. Tweet one of these new members of Congress and ask them how they are going to represent your generation.

Visual Extension

Check out all these interactive 116th Congress graphics.

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Bonus (totally off-topic) Chart