The Price of Power

Happy Constitution Day!

How often does the top spending candidate win their race for the U.S. House of Representatives?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. In 2016, how often did the candidate running for congress who spent less than their opponent win?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is the most important consequence of that story?

  6. Is this story good news for American democracy?

  7. For whom is this good news?

  8. Explain whether the information from the chart above makes it more or less likely that you would run for office in the U.S. Congress one day.

  9. Based on the data from the chart above, make a claim about money and politics in the U.S.

  10. What did the U.S. Constitution say about money in politics?

  11. Based on the data from this chart, when we say,”House of Representatives,” What is the House representative of?

  12. What question do you have about this data?

  13. Respond to this argument a student named Brett made. “The top speding canidate should win the race, because the best candidate will get the most money, so we are just electing the best candidate.”

  14. Respond to the argument made by A student named Bjork who said, “We have a government by the rich, for the rich, and of the rich.”

  15. Explain whether the data in the chart moves the United States more towards democracy or towards plutocracy?

  16. Let’s say that a group of Americans wanted to do something to make the highest spender less likely to win election. What is one action they could take?

  17. What would a typical American liberal say about this chart?

  18. Explain whether the U.S. Congress is likely to pass a law making the highest spender in an election less likely to win.

  19. In general, which costs more a U.S. House seat or a U.S. Senate seat?*

  20. Describe what has happened to the cost of seats in the U.S. congress over the past 40 years.*

  21. Why is that?*

  22. So????? *

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Read 10 Things Every Voter Should Know.


Action Extension

Register to vote before it’s too late. If you are already registered or ineligible to vote, help register someone who is eligible to vote.

Happy Constitution Day!

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MediaOTUS

These are the 10 largest media markets (metropolitan area) listed by Nielsen.

  • New York (#1)

  • Los Angeles (#2)

  • Chicago (#3)

  • Philadelphia (#4)

  • Dallas-Fort Worth (#5)

  • Washington, D.C. (#6)

  • Houston (#7)

  • San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose (#8)

  • Boston (#9)

  • Atlanta (#10)

What American media market had the most ads in the 2016 presidential election?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. How surprising is this information?

  3. Were any of these top presidential ad media markets in the top ten biggest media markets in the United States?

  4. Based on the data in the chart make a claim about media markets and presidential campaigns.

  5. Explain why the biggest spending in the presidential campaign happened in media markets, none of which are among the top ten biggest media markets in America.

  6. What political science term do we use to describe American states that are very evenly split in terms of political party affiliation?

  7. What is a consequence of all this ad spending happening in these particular media markets?

  8. Imagine you were the campaign manager for the Donald Trump 2020 presidential election campaign make a claim about why spending in top markets like New York (#1), Los Angeles (#2), or Chicago (#3) would be a waste of money.

  9. In the 2016 elections, U.S. House campaigns spent $971,524,520, and U.S. Senate campaigns spent $674,985,540. Using your knowledge of American politics, explain why more money was spent on U.S. House races than on U.S. Senate races.

  10. Explain whether you think Senate or House campaigns are more likely to spend money in the top ten media markets?

  11. The other day, a GoPo student we shall call Rudolph said, “advertising doesn’t really help campaigns. Democrats vote for Democrats and Republicans vote for Republicans. Respond to Rudolph’s claim using your inside voice.

  12. In 2010, Citizens United v. FEC ruled that limits on political advertising were violations of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. How has that ruling impacted American politics?

  13. Let’s say you didn’t like the Citizens United ruling. What political action could you take to try to limit its impact?

  14. Many democratic countries limit the amount of spending, veracity of content, and timing of political ads. Make a claim about whether the U.S. should place more limits on political spending?

  15. How would banning political ads impact political campaigns and their results?

  16. In general, what do Americans think about political ads?*

  17. Of the following mediums (formats) which had the biggest spending in the 2016 election: newspaper, digital, broadcast TV, radio, cable TV, out of Home (whatever that means)?*

  18. What has happened to the rate of digital ad spending over the past 12 years?*

*Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Read about the most expensive races in the 2018 election.

Action Extension

Make an advertisement (this could be a script, storyboard, digital image) for your favorite 2020 presidential candidate and share it in class or online.

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Kindervoten

GoPoPro

What percent of young voters (age 18-29) turned out to vote in the 2018 midterms?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Describe one trend you see in the chart?

  3. How much did youth voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election vary from the past?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of this change?

  6. Is this change good news?

  7. Many groups are taking credit for increased youth voting. What issues and groups do you think really caused this massive youth-voter increase?

  8. When youth voter turnout increases, explain which party benefits.*

  9. In general, if less than one third of any group of people turned up to vote, would you consider that a strong voter turnout?

  10. Imagine that instead of 31% of youth voting, 75% of youth voted. Describe a policy change that might result from that change?

  11. Approximately what percent of the people you personally know who are age 18-29 voted?

  12. If you were 18 by the day of the 2018 midterm election did you vote? If you will be 18 by November 3, 2020, the day of the 2020 election do you plan to vote?

  13. I recently ran into a former student. He told me (very sheepishly) that he did not vote in the midterm. I said, “well, you do live in New York so your vote doesn’t really matter in national elections.” Was I right? What did I mean?

  14. He said, “no, Mr. I didn’t vote, because I was bored and it just doesn’t really matter.” What would you say to him and what do you think I said to him?

  15. What question do you have about this data?

  16. What percent of all voters were youth voters?* (the most recent data comes from 2014)*

  17. Why do you think that is?

  18. Considering which party young people are voting for. Imagine there is another heavy youth turnout in 2020. How will that impact the likelihood of a Trump reelection?

  19. At age 29 year-old, Bronx-born, Alexandria Octavio-Cortes became the youngest women ever elected to the House of Representatives. Describe how you imagine her age impacts the way she legislates.

Visual Extension*

Learning Extension

Check out this very short Circle report on youth voting in the 2018 midterm elections.

Action Extension

Speak to a few people age 18-29 who voted in the 2018 midterm election and draw some conclusions about why they did or didn’t vote. Share your conclusions in class or online.

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Mike Drop

Are there more Johns and Mikes or more female members of the House GOP (Republican Party)?

  1. What story does the chart tell?

  2. Explain why that is the case.

  3. Because of the data from the chart, explain one consequence on American politics.

  4. Is this good news?

  5. Does this information surprise you?

  6. List one question you have about this data:

  7. 50% of Americans are female. 23% of Congress is female. Imagine that 50% of the House was female. Consider how that would that change American public policy. Describe three specific policies that would impact.

  8. Explain whether you personally think that would be a good change.

  9. 50% of Americans are female. 23% of Congress is female. List the top three reasons for this lack of gender parity:

  10. How different do you imagine this data will be in 40 years (if there is a Congress in 40 years)?

  11. How different do you predict this data was 100 years ago?

  12. How do you think the number of Johns or Mikes compares to the number of female House members of the Democratic Party?*

  13. What about the demographic (race,age, gender, religion, etc.) makeup and ideological (beliefs and values) makeup of the two major US parties explains this difference?

  14. A student of mine once asked, in exasperation, “How could any woman be a Republican?” How would you answer her question?

  15. Based on the terms lengths and the way members of the House and the Senate are elected, explain whether the Senate or the House is more male or female?*

  16. In the comments section below list the first year you believe the U.S. Congress will achieve gender parity and be 50% female:

*Visual Extension

*There are 7 Democratic House Members named John or Mike. Believe me, I read the entire list.

*Fun Fact-The following House members first names are real:

Learning Extension

Read more about all the Republican and Democratic women in the U.S. House from the Center For American Women and Politics

Action Extension

Find out how many women, Mikes, and Johns represent your state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Share your answer in class or online.

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Unpopular Sovereignty

How many times in American history did the person who lost the popular vote get elected president?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does the chart tell?

  3. What person who won the presidency lost the popular vote by the largest margin?

  4. What president won the popular vote by the largest margin?

  5. Does the person who lost the popular vote but won the presidency usually win reelection?

  6. Democracy means rule by the people. By the people, we mean the majority (most) or plurality (more) of the people. If one out of nine presidents are elected without wining the majority or plurality of the popular vote what does that tell us about American democracy?

  7. Explain how the popular vote loser can be the winner in American presidential campaigns?

  8. Explain whether U.S. congressional elections are more or less democratic than U.S. presidential elections.

  9. Describe one consequence of the fact that one of nine American presidents lost the popular vote?

  10. Imagine you played a pick-up basketball game and at the end of the game the team with the most points ended up losing. (Would you keep playing?) Explain how unpopular sovereignty (the loser winning) impacts voter turnout.

  11. The Framers of our nation did not once use the word democracy in the Constitution. They also built the electoral system that produces unpopular sovereigns (presidents who lost). What do you imagine the framers would think about the results of the 2016 election?

  12. Explain the impact of losing the popular vote but winning the presidency on the legitimacy and the rule of that president?

  13. Describe how losing the popular vote has impacted the Trump presidency.

  14. Based on the chart and your knowledge of American politics, do you anticipate that Donald Trump will win reelection (either with a majority or not)?

  15. How will the fact that the popular vote loser can win the presidency impact the 2020 presidential campaign?

  16. Explain whether you believe the United States should create a system to ensure that the winner of the popular vote wins the presidency.

Visual Extension


Learning Extension

Read about The National Popular Vote Plan, a voting method that would insure that the winner of the popular vote was always elected president.

Action Extension

Contact your state legislators to share your thoughts about the The National Popular Vote Plan.

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