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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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


Shrinking Swing Seats

AP US Government and Politics

Out of 435 House seats how many are swing seats*?

*A swing seat is a district held with a small majority that is generally competitive in a legislative election. Because the number of Democrats and Republicans in a swing district are so close, a swing seat might be won by a Republican one election, and then a Democrat the next. This is also known as a competitive seat. The opposite is a safe seat, an district that is drawn so that it is predictably won by one party or the other, so the success of that party's candidate is almost taken for granted.

Cook Political Report

AP US Government and Politics

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What story does this chart tell?

  3. Explain one reason the number of swing seats is shrinking.

  4. What is one consequence of the shrinking number of swing seats?

  5. What is good about swing seats?

  6. Is the shrinking number of swing seats good news or bad?

  7. How surprising was this information?

  8. What would be one way for there to be more swing seats in the US?

  9. Who draws the district lines in US house races?

  10. Does this chart make majority leadership in the House likely to change parties any time soon?

  11. How does the lack of swing seats affect how campaign and elections are run?

  12. If you were to extrapolate these trends into the future what would the chart look like by the year 2020?

  13. If you were a representative in a safe seat, explain what incentive you would have to listen to the will of the people or compromise on your views.

  14. Explain whether the Senate has swing seats.

  15. How would having more competitive elections, instead of elections where we already know who will win in almost all elections, impact the kind of policies we get?

  16. What questions do you have about this?

  17. How does this information impact American democracy?

Learning Extension

I have not lived in a swing seat during my adulthood. Instead, the two districts I have lived in have been safe for one party for the past two decades. Check out the Cook Political Report chart of very few competitive races from 2016 or take a gander at this interactive map of competitive seats from 270 to Win.

Action Extension

Find out if your district is a swing seat. Share your answer in class or online. Contact your US House representative and explain to them why they do or don't need to listen to the will of the people or compromise in any way.

Bonus Map

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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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Incumbent Reelection Rates

AP US Government and Politics

Over the past half century, about what percent of incumbents* are reelected to Congress?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What is the big story this chart tells?

  4. Why do you think that is?

  5. What is one consequence of this?

  6. Is this good news, bad news, neither, or both?

  7. Based on this chart alone, make one prediction about incumbents and the 2018 midterm elections:

  8. If you were to draw this chart twenty years into the future what would it look like:

  9. Have US incumbent reelection rates always been this high? (see bonus chart below.)

  10. Imagine a world where there were no incumbents (in other words, you were not allowed to run for reelection EVER) what would that political system look like and who would it empower?

  11. No matter what happens in the the next  election, the big winners will be incumbents. Who will the big losers be?

  12. What are three reasons that incumbents win?

  13. Let's say that you wanted to take away some of these incumbent advantages, who would have to pass the laws to take away those advantages?

  14. In the most recent decades, presidents get reelected at about a 66% rate. Explain whether you believe our current president will be reelected:

  15. Explain whether you believe our current president should be reelected:

  16. You must have a few questions about this chart. Write down a question that comes to mind:

  17. Based on the data, what assumptions would you make about the popularity of Congress today?

Learning Extension

This is a meme about Congressional incumbents.

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 3.09.06 PM.png

Check out Pulitzer Prize winner Politifact's exploration of whether this meme is true.

Action Extension

Think about incumbents and why they win. Think about the Congressional incumbents who represent you (they could be Senators or members of the House). Do a little research on your own personal incumbent and decide whether you should vote for them or not. If you can vote, vote your conscience. If you can't vote, find someone who can and explain whether they should vote for the incumbent or not.

Bonus Charts



Hilarious Animals!

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