Poll Position

AP US Government and Politics

We are 72 weeks out from next summer’s nominating conventions. On average, how Accurate are polls at predicting the eventual party nominee for POTUS at this point in the race?

How accurate was your prediction?

Critical Questions

  1. Why do you think polls are so inaccurate this early on?

  2. What is a consequence of the inaccuracy of early polls?

  3. Describe the trend in the accuracy of polls as we get closer to the actual convention.

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. we would be doing everyone a service if we just outlawed polls until 20 weeks before the convention where their accuracy finnaly climbs above 50%. Respond to this claim.

  6. Imagine we did try to ban all polls at this point in a presidential campaign. What organizations might fight that ban?

  7. What argument could those organizations and their allies make regarding the first amendment?

  8. According to the Economist chart below* who is leading the Democratic field so far?

  9. In February 2007, for example, Hillary Clinton had a 20-point lead over a young Barack Obama, who would end up winning the nomination a year and a half later in one of the closest primaries in recent memory. On the Republican side, Donald Trump had not even announced his candidacy 72 weeks before his party’s convention in 2016. Make a claim about How likely it is that Kamala Harris (the current front-runner) will end up winning the Democratic nomination.

  10. Based on the data above and below and your knowledge of american politics, make a claim about who will be the next president of the United States.

  11. Explain why people are paying more attention to the Democratic candidates than to the Republican candidates in this year’s election?

  12. Imagine that Amendment XXII actually limited presidents to ONE term in office. How would that impact this year’s presidential election?

  13. Imagine that Amendment XXII actually limited presidents to ONE term in office. How would that impact the American political system?

  14. If You ran for president in the year 2020, list the top five things that would stop you from winning.

  15. Why does polling data from Iowa (see below)* matter more than other states?

  16. How does the relative importance of states like Iowa impact American presidential politics?

  17. Why would someone like Kirsten Gillibrand who is getting slayed in the polls* (less than five points of support), Not drop out of the race?

  18. Or, we could ask, Many of these candidates know they are not going to win the presidency. why are they even running in the first place?

  19. Based on the data from the chart above, what conclusion do you draw about the accuracy of polling in general?

  20. If you were a Republican and wanted to make sure the GOP maintained the presidency would you urge Trump to run for reelection or to stand aside for another Republican?

Visual Extension


Listen to this NPR story: What Iowa Democrats Want In A 2020 Candidate: Someone Who Can Beat Trump

Action Extension

Get your GoPo teacher to run for president. Helpthem create a campaign committee and get them on the ballot in your state.

Our World In Data Extension

GoPo Valentine Extension


Year of the Rookie

What portion of the current Congress is leaving?

  1. What story does the chart tell?

  2. Describe two reasons for such low turnover in Congress:

  3. Describe one positive consequence of such low congressional turnover.

  4. Describe one negative consequence of such low congressional turnover.

  5. Overall, explain whether this level of congressional turnover is good news or bad news.

  6. This year’s turnover is the third highest since 1947. Why do you think the turnover this year was so (relatively) high?

  7. There will be over 100 new members of Congress when they are sworn in this January. Explain whether new and inexperienced congress members are more likely to be delegates or trustees.

  8. Explain whether new members of Congress are more likely to be influenced by special interest groups, PACs, and lobbyists than more experienced members.

  9. DO you think we should have term limits (thus assuring a much higher turnover rate)?

  10. Explain how will this year’s level of turnover will impact the president’s ability to govern.

Learning Extension

FiveThirtyEight says that the chart from today’s class starter is one of the four most important charts to explain this year’s midterm election. Check out 538’s analysis of today’s class starter chart.

Action Extension

Use some of the words and ideas from the questions and charts in today’s class starter to make a short rhyme or rap about the new Congress. Share your creation in class or online.

Trump for Congress - Midterm Elections

How much will voters be thinking about Trump as they vote in the midterm elections?

*Pro Tip: President Trump is not actually on the ballot.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How much of a factor is Trump going to be in the midterm elections?

  3. Explain why that is:

  4. What are two consequences of this?

  5. Is this going to be good news for Republicans?

  6. As you personally think about the midterm (whether you can vote yet or not), how much does Trump figure into your thinking about the election?

  7. How do you think party affiliation impacts whether the Trump effect will be positive or negative?*

  8. How much do you think opinion about the recent Trump tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, and the ballooning federal deficit will impact the midterm elections?*

  9. After the election, who do you think will control the House? After the election, who do you think will control the Senate? And explain why House and the Senate races don’t always play out the same way?

  10. It’s long been said that “all politics are local,” but many candidates from both parties are making this election national - either running to or away from Trump. Why do you think that is?

  11. If you were a Republican running for the House in a closely contested race (only about 10 percent of all races) explain whether you would invite Trump to campaign with you right now.

  12. Right now Republicans control the presidency and both houses of Congress. Let’s imagine that the Democrats win the House in the midterm election, leading to Divided Government. List three ways that will impact President Trump?

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Listen to the NPR story about Trump and the midterm election.

Action Extension

I have already voted. Have you? You can vote (or at least get someone to vote as you would vote if you could vote)! So go vote or convince someone to vote. Share your story in class or online.

Substitute Teacher Extension

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