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University of Virginia Center for Politics

By Yvonne Baker,2014-01-11 09:30
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University of Virginia Center for Politics

    University of Virginia Center for Politics

    Youth Leadership Initiative

    Meet the Candidates

    Using SpeakOut! and Sabato’s Crystal Ball

Purpose: In this lesson, students study and evaluate key presidential, congressional and

    gubernatorial candidates in the 2008 election. In addition, students are asked to turn

    their attention to important issues in this campaign at the national, state and local levels.

    The lesson also provides a political efficacy component in which students write an

    informed letter about a campaign issue to an elected official or candidate of their

    choosing. This kind of personal contact with a government leader can be a powerful

    catalyst to future involvement in the political process. The lesson will also prepare

    students for participation in the YLI Mock Election.

Objectives:

    1. Students will identify and evaluate the major presidential candidates as well as the congressional

    and gubernatorial candidates from their state in the 2008 election.

    2. Students will research issues of particular interest to them.

    3. Students will write a letter to candidates for president, governor, the House of Representatives,

    or Senate.

Key Words:

    Challenger Incumbent Political Efficacy

    Constituent Open Seat

Materials:

    1. Copies of mock ballot

    2. Student copies of Candidate Research Forms (Form A or B)

    a. President

    b. House of Representatives

    c. Senate

    d. Governor

    3. Handouts of Issues Research Guide

    4. Handouts of Candidates Issues Grid

    5. Handouts of Contact a Candidate: Letter Writing Guide

    6. Letter writing materials

Procedure:

    1. Warm-up: Distribute copies of the mock ballot at the beginning of class. Tell students they

    are to mark their choice for the next president of the United States, then fold their ballots in

    half. Collect and count ballots without any conversation. Write the vote count on the board.

    Ask students how they made their selection for president. What criteria did they use? What

    www.youthleadership.net

would they have wanted to know if this had been an actual election? Save student responses

    on the board or an overhead.

    2. Transition: Explain to students that this lesson will introduce them to the candidates and

    issues in the 2008 election. By the end of the lesson, they will have enough information to

    make some decisions about which candidates and issues are important during this election

    cycle.

    3. Researching the Candidates:

    ? Teachers may use Candidate Research Form A for students needing a basic introduction

    to the candidates and their parties, or Form B for a more advanced introduction.

    ? Not all states have all three offices up for election this year. Teachers should feel free

    to use only the candidate forms most appropriate for their states and their students.

    ? Each Candidate Research Form B has a question that asks students to predict the winner

    of the election. Teachers may record student responses and check them after the election.

    4. Researching the Issues:

    ? Once students have completed the Candidate Research Forms, the next step is to

    research some of the issues that may surface in this election. Ask students to use the

    Issues Research Guide and the Public Agenda website (http://www.publicagenda.org/) to

    help them learn a little more about the issues that interest them the most.

    ? The final part of the process is for students to match candidates to their own positions on

    the issues. Students may use the candidates’ own websites to complete the Candidate

    Issues Grid.

    5. Political Efficacy - Write a Candidate: Distribute copies of the letter writing guide. Have students write a letter to one of the

    candidates they researched. Teachers may wish to have students review each other’s first

    drafts or submit first drafts before they mail their letters. Use the Speak Out! Page of the

    YLI website to locate addresses for legislators.

    6. Wrap-up: Review student answers from the warm-up activity. Do they feel better prepared

    to vote? What additional information might help them? How could they get this

    information?

    Extension Activities:

    a) Have students share responses from candidates with the class.

    b) Have students use their letters to invite candidates to visit the school.

    c) To further reinforce the distinction between incumbents, challengers and an open

    seat in congressional election, have students play the CD-Rom simulation A More

    Perfect Union. Teachers may obtain a complimentary copy of the CD-Rom by

    registering on the YLI website (http://www.youthleadership.net/) or by calling the

    toll-free help line at 1.866.514.8389.

    www.youthleadership.net

    PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE

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    PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE

    UNITED STATES UNITED STATES UNITED STATES

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    PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE

    UNITED STATES UNITED STATES UNITED STATES

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     Bugs Bunny Bugs Bunny Bugs Bunny

    PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE

    UNITED STATES UNITED STATES UNITED STATES

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    PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE

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    www.youthleadership.net

    Form (A)

     CANDIDATE RESEARCH

     PRESIDENT

Name: ____________________________________

1) Once you have logged onto the internet, type in the web address for the Youth

    Leadership Initiative at http://www.youthleadership.net. Click the “Speak Out” icon in

    the top right hand corner of the screen and then click “Information on Government

    Officials.”

    2) To identify presidential candidates click on the “Elections and Candidates” tab. The

    presidential candidates can be found at the bottom of the page. Click on their photos to

    see more information, and then click “See ALL candidates” to view all candidates for

    President. Who are the candidates? To which political parties do they belong? (Include

    third party candidates).

    3) Next, using the Crystal Ball (http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2008/president/),

    scroll down to Sabato's Electoral Road Map and click on View the Electoral Road Map.

    a. Click on your state. How many electoral votes does it have? _______

    b. Who won the state in 2004? ______

    By what percentage of the popular vote? ______

    c. According to the Crystal Ball, what is the outlook for your state in 2008 i.e. who is

    likely to win? ______________

    d. Do you think any of the third party candidates have a chance to influence the outcome of

    the election in your state? Explain your answer.

    www.youthleadership.net

    Form (B)

     CANDIDATE RESEARCH

     PRESIDENT

    Name: ____________________________________

    1) Once you have logged onto the internet, type in the web address for the Youth

    Leadership Initiative at http://www.youthleadership.net. Click the “Speak Out” icon

    in the top right hand corner of the screen and then click “Information on Government

    Officials.”

2) To identify presidential candidates click on the “Elections and Candidates” tab. The

    presidential candidates can be found at the bottom of the page. Click on their photos

    to see more information, and then click “See ALL candidates” to view all candidates

    for President. Who are the candidates? To which political parties do they belong?

    (Include third party candidates).

3) Next, using the Crystal Ball (http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2008/president/),

    scroll down to Sabato's Electoral Road Map and click on View the Electoral Road Map.

    a. Click on your state. How many electoral votes does it have? _______

    b. Who won the state in 2004? ______

     By what percentage of the popular vote? ______

    c. According to the Crystal Ball, what is the outlook for your state in 2008 i.e. who is

    likely to win? ______________

4) Why do Third Party candidates have such great difficulty winning a Presidential Election?

    ? Do you think any of the third party candidates have a chance to influence the outcome of

    the election in your state? Explain your answer.

5) Based on question 3 and your own research, who do you think will win the presidential

    election? Will the election be close? Defend your answers.

    www.youthleadership.net

     Form (A)

     CANDIDATE RESEARCH

     UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Name: ____________________________________

1) Once you have logged on to the internet, type in the web address for the Youth

    Leadership Initiative (http://www.youthleadership.net/). Click the “Speak Out” icon in

    the top right hand corner of the screen and then click “Information on Government

    Officials, then click on the “Elections & Candidates” tab. 2) In order to identify candidates running in your area, enter your zip code in the requested box and

    click “Go.” Under “Congressional Races,” click the “See Candidates” button. Fill in your

    address in the requested box to determine your congressional district. What is your

    congressional district?

3) Under the words “U.S. House,” you will see the candidates running in your area. Who are the

    candidates? To which party does each belong?

4) Is this a race with an incumbent (current office holder) and a challenger or does your district

    have an open seat? (If there is no candidate with an (i) next to their name, your state has an

    open seat). How could one candidate’s incumbent status affect the outcome of the race?

    www.youthleadership.net

    Form (B)

     CANDIDATE RESEARCH UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Name: ____________________________________

1) Once you have logged on to the internet, type in the web address for the Youth

    Leadership Initiative (http://www.youthleadership.net/). Click the “Speak Out” icon in

    the top right hand corner of the screen and then click “Information on Government

    Officials,” then click on the “Elections & Candidates” tab.

    2) In order to identify candidates running in your area, enter your zip code in the requested box and

    click “Go.” Under “Congressional Races,” click the “See Candidates” button. Fill in your

    address in the requested box to determine your congressional district. What is your

    congressional district?

    3) Under the words “U.S. House,” you will see the candidates running in your area. Who are the

    candidates? To which party does each belong?

4) Is this a race with an incumbent (current office holder) and a challenger or does your district

    have an open seat? (If there is no candidate with an (i) next to their name, your state has an open

    seat).

5) Which candidate do you think usually has the best chance of winning an election, the incumbent

    or the challenger? Why do you think this is true?

6) Find out how close the race is between the candidates in your district by going to the House of

    Representatives section of the website for Sabato’s Crystal Ball

    (http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2008/house/). Scroll down to the “Crystal Ball

    HotRace? Readings” table to see if your district’s House race is rated as one of the most

    competitive. Any district not listed in the table is considered likely to be won by the incumbent

    (a “safe” race). Is your district likely to have a competitive race, or a safe one?

7) Based on question 6 and your own research, can you make a prediction about this race? Who

    will win the election? Will the election be close? Explain your answers.

    www.youthleadership.net

    Form (A)

     CANDIDATE RESEARCH

     UNITED STATES SENATE

Name: ____________________________________

1) Once you have logged on to the internet, type in the web address for the Youth

    Leadership Initiative (http://www.youthleadership.net/). Click the “Speak Out” icon in

    the top right hand corner of the screen and then click “Information on Government

    Officials,” then click on the “Elections & Candidates” tab.

    2) In order to identify candidates running in your area, enter your zip code in the requested box and

    click “Go.” Under “Congressional Races,” click the “See Candidates” button. Fill in your

    address. On the next page, under the words “U.S. Senate,” you will see the candidates running

    in your area.

3) Who are the candidates? To which political parties do they belong? (Include third party

    candidates).

4) Is this a race with an incumbent (current office holder) and a challenger or does your state have

    an open seat? (If there is no candidate with an (i) next to their name, your state has an open seat).

    How could one candidate’s incumbent status affect the outcome of the race?

    www.youthleadership.net

    Form (B)

     CANDIDATE RESEARCH

     UNITED STATES SENATE

Name: ____________________________________

1) Once you have logged on to the internet, type in the web address for the Youth

    Leadership Initiative (http://www.youthleadership.net/). Click the “Speak Out” icon in

    the top right hand corner of the screen and then click “Information on Government

    Officials,” then click on the “Elections & Candidates” tab. 2) In order to identify candidates running in your area, enter your zip code in the requested box and

    click “Go.” Under “Congressional Races,” click the “See Candidates” button. Fill in your

    address. On the next page, under the words “U.S. Senate,” you will see the candidates running

    in your area.

3) Who are the candidates? To which political parties do they belong? (Include third party

    candidates.)

4) Is this a race with an incumbent (current office holder) and a challenger or does your state have

    an open seat? (If there is no candidate with an (i) next to their name, your state has an open

    seat.)

5) Which candidate do you think usually has the best chance of winning an election, the incumbent

    or the challenger? Why do you think this is true?

6) Find out how close the race is between the candidates in your state by going to the Senate

    section of the website for Sabato’s Crystal Ball

    (http://www.centerforpolitics.org/crystalball/2008/senate). Click on “View all races” below the

    map. Scroll down to see details about your state’s upcoming Senate election. Underneath the

    state name, the Crystal Ball lists an “Outlook” for the race. If it is listed as “Solid” for one party,

    it is not considered competitive. If it only “Leans” or is “Likely,” for one party, it is a more

    competitive race. According to the Crystal Ball, how competitive is the Senate race in your state?

    7) What is the Crystal Ball’s prediction for the outcome of the race? Based on question 6 and your

    own research, can you make a prediction about this race? Who will win the election? Will the

    election be close? Explain your answers.

     Form (A)

    www.youthleadership.net

     CANDIDATE RESEARCH STATE GOVERNOR

Name: ____________________________________

1) Once you have logged on to the internet, type in the web address for the Youth

    Leadership Initiative (http://www.youthleadership.net/). Click the “Speak Out” icon in

    the top right hand corner of the screen and then click “Information on Government

    Officials,” then click on the “Elections & Candidates” tab. 2) In order to identify candidates running in your area, enter your zip code in the requested box and

    click “Go.” Under “State Races,” click the “See Candidates” button. Fill in your address. On the

    next page, under the words “Governor,” you will see the candidates running in your state.

3) Who are the candidates? To which political parties do they belong? (Include third party

    candidates.)

4) Is this a race with an incumbent (current office holder) and a challenger or does your state have

    an open seat? (If there is no candidate with an (i) next to their name, your state has an open

    seat). How could one candidate’s incumbent status affect the outcome of the race?

     Form (B)

    www.youthleadership.net

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