Ideology by State

AP Government and Politics

What Ideology is your state?

*If you need a definition of liberal or conservative look no further than right here.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. In what way did the map characterize your state incorrectly?

  3. What most surprised you about this map?

  4. What least surprised you about this map?

  5. What geographical trends do you see in the map?

  6. Some states are very conservative (Alabama) while others are very liberal (Massachusetts). Why do you think that is?

  7. Because Alabama and Massachusetts are very different, what different policies do you think those states have made?

  8. How closely did state ideology correspond to the outcome of the 2016 presidential election?

  9. Overall, would you say that the US is more liberal, conservative, or just plain average? In the comments section, support your contention with one example or reason:

  10. At one point, North Carolina (the best state ever), Virginia (not), and Kansas were reliably conservative states. What do you think has happened to make them more liberal?

  11. One thing that is certain is change. How different do you think this map will look in 20 years?

  12. What state do you think would most like Honey Boo Boo?

  13. In the comments section, explain what would be best and what would be worst about moving to a state that is diametrically ideologically different from your personal beliefs.

  14. Of all the states, which do you think is the most liberal and the most conservative?*

Learning Extension

Check out this article on Gallup's top ten most conservative and liberal states, along with rankings below*:

Action Extension

Research the political party of the US Senators and US House members from your state. Contact any politicians from your state who are out of line with your state's ideology (as shown in the map above) and advise them on how they should vote on one particular issue that would more closely align them with their state's ideology. You can locate your Representative:

U.S. House of Representatives:

U.S. Senate:

Ideology by Congressional District

Hey, that's Keyboard Cat!

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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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.


What is the happiest country in the world?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the takeaway message of this chart?

  3. What surprised you about this chart?

  4. How different do you think this chart will be in 100 years?

  5. Do you think that these kinds of rankings matter?

  6. Of all the things that could be ranked, what would you want your country to be best at?

  7. Are there any patterns in the sorts of countries that ranked among the happiest?

  8. Are there any kinds of countries that are absent from the top of the rankings?

  9. How did your country do on this chart and why do you think that is?

  10. The US came in as the 15th happiest country. In the comments section below, speculate on why we ranked 15th.

Action Extension

Interview 10 people and ask them to speculate on how the US ranks in the World Happiness Report. Show them the actual rankings and ask them to share their reaction with you and on social media.

Learning Extension

Read more about the 2015 World Happiness Report

By the way, the least "happy" — countries include Togo, Burundi, Syria, Benin and Rwanda.


In the continental US, what's the farthest you can be from a McDonald's?

Answer: 107 miles. Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distant from the nearest McDonald's, as the crow flies.

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What is the big story this map tells?

  3. Is the fact that there are so many McDonald's good news or bad news?

  4. Explain why, in the US, you can never be more that 100 miles from a Micky D's?

  5. What is the consequence of the ubiquity of McDonald's?

  6. McDonald's is a potent symbol of globalization. Can you think of any better known or more global symbol than McDonald's?

  7. What would this map have looked like in 1950, and what do you think it will look like in 2040?

  8. Is there anything more American than McDonald's?

  9. Is there any US restaurant/store there are more of than McDonald's?

  10. In the comments section below, advise the residents of Meadow, North Dakota whether a McDonald's would be good for their hamlet.

Action Extension

Look at a Google Maps of your community and type in McDonald's. How far could you drive around before you ran into the nearest McDonald's? Without speeding or breaking any laws, see how many McDonald's you can drive to in 30 minutes. 

Learning Extension

Watch 7 minutes of Super Size Me.

Ay Ay Ay Ay Phone

AP Government and Politics

After the iPhone was first released in 2007 what happened to the percentage of 12th graders who drive?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this information?

  3. How well does this chart reflect your generation?

  4. Do you have more friends without a license or without a smart phone?

  5. What is the big trend you see in the data?

  6. Why do you think that change is happening?

  7. What is a consequence of this change?

  8. Clearly, the iPhone and other smart phones have had a big impact on driving. Explain what impact you think this technology has had on U.S. politics:

  9. There are clearly some negative effects of the ubiquity of smartphones. List any positive effects of smartphones:

  10. Smartphone technology has also disrupted other aspects of social life for young people. Describe other changes this technology has brought to your generation:

  11. What exactly are kids doing on their smartphones that is more compelling than driving around?

  12. The day I turned 16 was the day I got my license. Everyone I knew got their license as soon as possible and almost all of us had cars. Obviously, these cars had a tremendous impact on where and how we lived: suburbs boomed, mobility increased, our country fought wars to insure control of the oil we sucked from the ground. How is the rise of the smartphone going to impact how your generation lives?

  13. Is there any other technology that has as profoundly shaped your generation as the smartphone?

  14. Overall, is this chart good news? Would the U/S/ be better off without smartphone technology?

  15. What do you think this chart will look like in 20 years?

Learning Extension

Read this endlessly fascinating Atlantic Magazine article about you and your generation!

Action Extension

Tell your iPhone, "Siri, destroy yourself! And see what happens. Also, go 14 hours without your smart phone (I bet you can't do it!) and reflect on how this data drout impacted your life. Share your reaciton in class or online in the comment section below.

Sad Bonus Charts

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Patriotic States

AP US Government and Politics

What is the most patriotic state in America?

AP US Government and Politics

Here’s the latest interactive map version of the most patriotic states.

Source: WalletHub
  1. How wrong was your prediction?

  2. What most surprises you about the map?

  3. Are you surprised by your state's patriotism ranking?

  4. Describe any interesting geographical trends you see in the map.

  5. Explain one of the map's interesting trends:

  6. How does patriotism differ from nationalism?

  7. How patriotic are you?

  8. What's the best thing about being patriotic?

  9. How do you think demographics such as and party affiliation impact levels of patriotism?*

  10. If we measured our entire nation's level of patriotism what color would it be?

  11. Do you think it's ironic that the most patriotic state was the one that seceded from the union to start the civil war?

  12. How patriotic do you think the United States is relative to other countries in the world?*

  13. Who do you think is the most patriotic person in America?

  14. Explain whether you think President Trump is patriotic.

  15. What do you think is the most patriotic animal?**

  16. In the comments section, write what a person from the most patriotic state would say to a person from the least patriotic state about why they should be patriotic?

  17. Bonus Question: what is the one state that could pass the citizenship test?

Not Patriotic Very Patriotic

Visual Extension*

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Statistic: Would you consider yourself very patriotic? | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Learning Extension

Read this Pew Research Center report on American Patriotism in 2017.

Action Extension

Draw a patriotism meter. Ask twenty five people how patriotic they are, put the average on your meter, & post your meter up in a public place.

Patriotic Animal Extension**

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AP US Government and Politics

Our World In Data Extension

Our Animals in Clothing Extension


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