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.

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Blame Game

The current government shutdown is the longest in American history. Who do Americans most blame for the current government shutdown?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story do the data tell?

  3. Why do you think Americans blame Trump more than Democrats for the government shutdown?

  4. What will be one consequence of the data from the chart above?

  5. Who do you blame for the government shutdown? (Take our survey below)*

  6. Describe what you need to know about how the polling data was collected to determine its reliability.

  7. Do you think that polls like the one above are more likely to reflect opinion or to shape public opinion?

  8. Madison wrote in Federalist No. 51, that in order to avoid a tyranny, “ambition must be made to counteract ambition.” Explain whether you think our system of government has countered ambition too much.

  9. Let’s say that a politician read the data above and thought, “wow, my constituents are really mad at me, I better change my position to end the shutdown.” Explain whether that politician’s perspective is more reflective of a trustee or a delegate.

  10. Explain any connection between the government shutdown and divided government.

  11. The Quinnipiac University poll** (below) has slightly different data from the CBS poll (above). What is the most likely reason for that difference?

  12. According to The Quinnipiac University poll**, How do demographics impact public opinion on the shutdown?

  13. What questions do you have about the data or this topic?

  14. How much do you think the fact that The Majority of Americans do not want a border wall will impact the government shutdown?**

Take Our Survey*

Create your own user feedback survey

Visual Extension**


Learning Extension

Take part in the Government Shutdown CONVO.

Action Extension

Contact officials from your federal government and let them know what you think about the government shutdown.

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