Party Conventional Wisdom

The 2020 Democratic National Convention (DNC) will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC) will be held in Charlotte, NC (whoot, whoot). Over the past century, what U.S. city has been the home to the most political party conventions?

Infographic: Democrats Pick Milwaukee for 2020 National Convention | Statista You will find more infographics at Statista
  1. How accurate was your ridiculous prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this silly map?

  3. In your opinion, what is the most important American city that has never had a convention? (Pro-tip: Orlando is not really that important).

  4. Why do you think Chicago is the city that has had the most conventions? (Windy City- coincidence???? Just Sayin’)!

  5. Why do you think the Democrats are holding their 2020 nominating convention in Wisconsin, a state Obama won in 2008 and 2012?

  6. Why do you think the Republicans are holding their 2020 nominating convention in (whoot! Whoot!) North Carolina (N. Cakalacky)?

  7. Since 2008, what kind of state has hosted every national political convention?*

  8. What explains that trend?

  9. Why do we have national political party conventions, anyway?

  10. And what happens at National Conventions?

  11. Now that you have read, internalized, and memorized Federalist No. 10 and are an expert on James Madison (163 centimeters tall - five foot four inches) and his feelings towards factions, explain what Madison would have thought about party conventions.

  12. If you were the head of the Democratic National Party explain where you would hold the 2024 convention.

  13. If you were the head of the Republican National Party explain where you would hold the 2024 convention. (Pro tip: you’re not).

  14. Based on the silly map above, describe any regional differences in the location of party conventions for the two major parties.

  15. Explain whether you think national nominating conventions increase or decrease democracy.

  16. Explain whether independents get a national party convention?

  17. How are delegates to conventions decided, anyhow?

  18. What is it about Cleveland that the Democratic Party hates so much that they have never had a convention there?????

Visual Extension*

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Learning Extension

Listen to this insane Here and Now report. *Warning: Graphic language. The following NPR report may not be suitable for all listeners.

Action Extension

Did you know that mere mortals like you can attend a national party convention?!?! Contact your favorite political party and ask them what you need to do to attend the 2020 national party convention. You might just be surprised by what you learn. Share their response in class or online.

Our World In Data Extension

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Our Animals in Clothing Extension


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A Totally Random and Unrelated Visual Extension

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Midterm Election Spending

How much money was spent on the 2018 midterm elections?


Total cost of U.S. midterm elections from 1998 to 2018 by party (in million U.S. dollars)

Statistic: Total cost of U.S. midterm elections from 1998 to 2018, by party (in million U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista
  1. How accurate was your absolutely amazing prediction?

  2. Describe one trend you see in the data.

  3. What is the main cause of that trend?

  4. What is one consequence of this trend for American politics?

  5. Explain whether this chart is good or bad news.

  6. Based on changes over the past ten years, what amount do you predict will be spent on the 2022 midterm elections?

  7. And how much will be spent on the 2038 midterms?

  8. How does midterm election spending compare to presidential election year spending?

  9. What explains that difference?

  10. Claim: the increase in campaign spending is a sign of the good health of American democracy. Use your reading of the chart and your knowledge of American politics to respond to this claim.

  11. Explain why, relative to the major two parties, Third Parties/Minor Parties spend so little on elections?

  12. Based on this chart and your knowledge of American politics, explain why there are only 3 minor party members in the U.S. Congress.

  13. What question do you have about this chart?

  14. Which party outspent the other in 2018?

  15. Did they get a good return on their investment?

  16. Where is most of this campaign spending money coming from?

  17. Where is most of this campaign money going?

  18. How does the spending illustrated in the chart impact the power of political parties?

  19. Explain how the ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission impacted the spending in the chart? (Pro Tip: this is one of the 15 landmark SCOTUS cases that you should definitely know! You can learn a whole lot more about this case right here!)

  20. Describe the connection between election spending and winning. (see visual below)

Visual Extension

Learning Extension

Check out this fantabulous article on money and elections from Five Thirty Eight.

Action Extension

Check out the data from Open Secrets on the 2018 congressional elections and see how much your very own beloved U.S. representative spent. Share the data in class or online.

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothes Extension

One Party?

GoPo Pro

AP US Government and Politics

What % of Americans say there is hardly any difference in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. Describe how much of a difference you think there is in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for. Use one fact about current American political parties to support your claim.

  3. What trend do you see in the data?

  4. Explain whether this trend is good or bad news.

  5. Why do you think that is?

  6. How do you think that trend will impact the American political system?

  7. What issue do you think the Democrats and Republicans parties most agree on?

  8. The majority of Americans now say that there is a great deal of difference in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for. What issue do you think the Democrats and Republicans parties most disagree about?

  9. The United States has a two-party system. Describe what it is about our electoral system and the way we vote that leads to the two-party system.

  10. In what way do you think the two-party system is good for the political system of the United States?

  11. Another name for this divergence in what the parties stand for is political polarization. What impact do you think the news media has on poltical polarization?

  12. Imagine you became king of American for a day. What would be one remedy to make American less polarized?

  13. In the current system of political party polarization, explain whether you think that the two major parties would come together to do what is best for our nation in a time of crisis.

  14. In Federalist No. 10 (one of our required foundational documents), James Freaking Madison wrote about factions (what today we might call political parties) saying, "a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community". What the HECK does this quote mean?

  15. What would you say is the common impulse or passion which unites Democrats?

  16. What would you say is the common impulse or passion which unites Republicans?



Learning Extension

Watch this fantabulous video about Duverger’s Law and the origins of our two-party system.

Democrats and Republicans More Ideologically Divided than in the Past
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Action Extension

Ask five people to describe how much of a difference you think there is in what the Democratic and Republican parties stand for. Share your analysis of your results in class or online.

Slightly Random Extension (SRE)

Vampire Weekend has part of a new album out

You can listen to an interview with the band plus the two new Vampire Weekend tracks!

EnthUSAiasm

Which party is more enthusiastic about this year’s midterm elections?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story this graph tells?

  3. Why do you think that is?

  4. What is one consequence of this year’s enthusiasm gap?

  5. Take the graph above and write the name of the president for each of the midterm elections.* How does the president’s party impact the enthusiasm of midterm voters by party?

  6. Take the graph above and write the amount of seats lost by the president for each of the midterm elections.* How does the president’s party fare in midterm election?

  7. How has the tend in the chart changed over the past 12 years?

  8. Why do you think Democrats are so enthusiastic about this year’s elections?

  9. President Trump is not running for office in 2018 (now), but in a way he is. President Trump has about a 40% approval rating. How do you think that will impact the midterms?

  10. How do you think Senators up for reelecton in red (Republican) states, Senators up for reelection in blue (Democratic) states, and Senators up for reelection in purple (toss-up) states will differ in their campaigns.

  11. How do you think that 12% enthusiasm gap between the parties will impact this year’s midterms?

  12. Do you think there is anything President trump can or will do between now and the Tuesday, November 6 election to get his base (super-Republican voters) riled up (excited to vote)?

  13. Do you think Trump nominated a more extreme Supreme Court nominee like Brett Kavanaugh right before the midterm election to rally his base (get his supporters fired up)? Do you think

  14. Democrats in the House and Senate fought so hard against Brett Kavanaugh to rally their midterm electoral base?

  15. Imagine that the Democrats take control of the House and the Senate in the 2018 midterm elections. How does that impact how Trump governs?
    How does that impact how they treat Trump?

  16. Imagine that Donald J. Trump gets reelected in 2020. How does that graph look in 2022?

  17. Imagine that Kamala Harris (D) gets elected in 2020. How does that graph look in 2022?

  18. What particular issues are riling up Republicans and Democrats right now?

Data Extension

*2006: Bush (R); 2010: Obama (D); 2014 Obama (D); 2018 Trump (R)

*2006: lost 36; 2010: lost 69; 2014: lost 22; 2018: lost/gained ?

*Visual Extension

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Learning Extension

Read this Pew Research Center report on midterm elections voter enthusiasm.

Action Extension

Get enthusiastic! If you will be 18 by November 6 you better vote. If you can vote and don’t I will personally taunt you in every post-election class starter. If you can’t vote (grow up, but until then) find a person who can vote (mom, dad, great aunt, random cashier at Burger King, your chemistry teacher, football coach, or even your lunatic older sister) and get them to vote the way you would vote if you could. Use persuasion, reason, emotional appeals, fact, data, and any means necessary to have them be your proxy-voter. Share your story in class or online.

Chrome Extension

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Animal Extension

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