Friday, October 31, 2008

McCain-Feingold 2002?!
Remember when 527s were important in 2004? Now even the RNC and the DNC, with their "independent expenditure units" have found a way around the law. In swing states one hard hitting, albeit late 527 is the Republican Trust which is running the above ad among others it has made. More (Warning, there is one profane word which you might not want to show your students.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good Explanation of the Polls
This is a good one for your students to watch. It explains both the slightly closing national trend as well as the individual swing states.

The Latest Ads
The "winking Palin" ad on top is getting a lot of press. Below is the most recent McCain advertisement.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Referenda Questions and Candidates Nationwide
I suppose we all have taught our students who are running, but in case you still need the information, it can be found here. More importantly this site has referenda questions from every state in the union and even goes as far as local issues. So, for example, here is the one question for Fairfax County, VA as well as the federal candidates running for office.
Online Quizzes
For those of you who teach AP government, here are free access quiz questions that go with the Wilson/Dilulio textbook, "American Government." But since no AP text actually gives five stemmed questions, this might also serve as a good review for regular government students as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spending During the Third Week of October
To see the spending last week by McCain and Obama, go here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Electoral College from March to Today
This is a pretty interesting interactive map from Karl Rove's site. If you drag the arrow from one side to the other, you can see how the electoral college has changed over the last seven months. Above is a concise discussion of the electoral map from "The Fix" which is on the Washington Post's site..

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Winning the Media Campaign
Most government books seem to have weak chapters on the media (possibly because the medium is changing so rapidly), but this study migh help you. It is based on Pew Research statistical studies and has a number of great charts which allow you to quickly show your students pictorally what was going on at a given point in time since the national conventions. For example, it shows the just following the collapse of Lehrman Brothers, the positive coverage of Obama went up and then after McCain suspended his campaign, coverage of him actually turned negative. In a sense some of this backs up what political scientists (and here, here and here) say which is that the percentage of public approval for the sitting president and the perception of the economy's strength are what is important a president, not what the campaigns are doing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Candidate Bios Made for the Classroom
Wow! Talk about being made for the classroom. PBS has a great series (Frontline: The Choice) on both candidates, their backgrounds and inside the campaign looks all in short 7-8 minute segments. Click here to see it and when you get to the site, click on the segment you want and start watching.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Amazing Election Map
Yes DailyKos is a liberal blog site, but this map is just the facts, Jack! You can look at 2002-2008 (or will be able to see the '08 results in a few days) and see for any state see House, Senate, gubernatoral or presidential results, district by district. It also shows a tally of seats in the House and Senate in those years. To see the map, click on the picture or here.

A Short Video on the Electoral College

Click above to see a short video on how the electoral college works which you could show as a review for your students. It also might prove as an example if you wanted your students to create their own simple movies (for example you can use movie maker).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Candidate and Interest Groups Ads from April - October
Over $368 million was spent from April 3 to Oct. 20, 2008 to broadcast over 290 ads, according to statistics compiled by Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks political advertising expenditures. This site is rather amazing. Just click on the candidate or interest group and it will tell you how much was spent and you can see (and play) all of their commercials (in case you and your students haven't had your fill yet!).
A "Dead Certain" Look at McCain
Okay most of the items on this site give you tools to be a better government teacher, but this one just is a good read and looks at the inside of the McCain campaign and its changing message. It will be printed this Sunday in the NYTimes magazine and is by Robert Draper who, last year, wrote "Dead Certain." Click here for the article.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Patchwork Nation
A really good website that also works for political understanding is Patchworknation made by the Christian Science Monitor. It looks at where the two candidates have made their campaign appearances and then asks the students to determine why a candidate would make a stop in a particular area versus another given the background of the location.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Who is Running for President?
Yes. Remember there are a lot more people than Obama and McCain. Click here for the six candidates in VA and their electors. The 8th district elector is a former VA state delegate and the 10th district elector ran for the House of Delegates in 1995. To see all the candidates (and there are a lot) nationwide, go here. To see state by state go here.

Poll Tracking

This site collects multiple polls from each state and tries to determine how the state will actually vote. They update the data daily. It is a very good indicator as to how November 4th should end up in all of the federal races.

Fun Gag for President

This site helps you create a realistic news story about an unknown running for president. You can enter any name you like and the name is added to the news clip. The students get a big laugh out of it.

Growing Voters

Check out Growing Voters. It's a site which has election-related lessons run by Lesley University.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Past Election Data and Maps

The David Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections is a great resource for showing popular and Electoral College vote. Also, it has 3rd party election data. Much more.
The $150 million Man
In 2000, W. Bush smashed Clinton's records by raising $100 million during the primary season and then in 2004 Kerry and Bush both brought in around $200 million, but Obama has now raised about $605 million. Remember he is the first presidential candidate not to accept federal funds during the general campaign (now up to $85 million). In August he raised $67 million which was the old record before September when he raised $150 million. To see his spending in the swing states last week, go here. To see campaign spending reports, go here.
Can A President Tame an Economy?
This is a great graphic where you can roll over each item and see the changes from Truman through W. Bush. As the article says Today, Americans save less and earn a lower minimum wage — in real, or inflation-adjusted, terms — than at nearly any other time since 1950. Can voters reasonably expect these and other indicators to change significantly after a new president takes office in January? Click here for the article.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Bradley Effect!
In 1982, LA Mayor Tom Bradley (D) lost the race for the CA governor's mansion even thought he was 10 points up in the polls just prior to election day. The thought is that people will tell a pollster in a race with a white and a non-white canididate that they are voting for the non-white person only to do the opposite on election day. In VA, it is also known as the "Wilder effect" after he won the governor's race by seven points less than on election day. At any rate there have been several articles on this recently and the question is will it have an impact on this year's presidential race. Here is one analysis from and another one from the Washington Post. The other side is the "reverse Bradley effect" found here. Above is a recent clip on the effect from SNL.

Monday, October 13, 2008

CSPAN For the Classroom
This site has a lot of relevant video for you to share with the students. For example, here is a clip discussing McCain and Obama's views on the current membership of the Supreme Court. Here is a 3 minute clip of Sec. Paulson discussing the federal government's takeover of "Fannie and Freddie" and here is Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, talking before the Senate Banking Committee about the bailout. Also go here for the politics link where there are the latest polls, all the presidential/vice presidential debates, campaign speeches and political rallies, campaign ads, and an interactive electoral college map. We also have a thing called Debate Hub which allows you to watch the upcoming debate in its absolute entirety - from the moment they turn the cameras on. It's neat because you get to see all the "pregame" action, if you will, of the moderator explaining the rules and, reporters doing their standups and at times, the candidates preparing for the debate. There's also a blog and Twitter roundup. And we typically have a live camera at some venue where people are watching the debate. You get to hear and see immediate reaction from the crowd.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Electoral College Map Over Time

Karl Rove has a great tool on his site that shows the Electoral Vote Map over time, starting last March.

Great video resource

Bookmark This is a free streaming video site which contains a variety of videos related to US Government. The videos are broken down by chapter, so you don't have to sit through the entire video if you don't wish.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Watch All the Debates from 1960 - 2000
This is a great site as it has all of the presidential debates for the last forty years. It also has transcipts, analysis, etc. Click here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Deliberating in the Classroom
First off what is deliberation? This site explains the technique and gives you plenty of lessons that work in the classroom. Go here to see the site.

Presidential Debate Highlights
The video above is 10 minutes of the highlights of the debate. Also click here to see CNN highlights from the second presidential debate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Polls and the Electoral College

Here's the latest Electoral College map based on recent state by state polls compiled by

Obama Outspending McCain Nearly 3 to 1 on Television

For the month of September, Brack Obama spent $20 million on ads versus John McCain's $7.5 million. Check it out in the Washington Post. Oh, why is Obama spending money in Montana? Virginia Spending is at left.
Bill of Rights Institute
The Bill of Rights Institute offers a variety of educational resources free of charge. Weekly eLessons offer 20-minute discussion guides for middle and high school history and government teachers. Each eLesson includes a lively background reading, discussion questions and extension options. Also, be sure to check out one of the Educating the Next Generation blog, to find out how we're applying knowledge in the classroom. Browse their Constitution Day, Bill of Rights Day, and Primary Source Activities sections to access these resources which include interactive Flash presentations, lesson plans, readings, and activities.

The Latest Ads
McCain on top and then Obama.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Biden-Palin Debate
The vice-presidental debate in 10 minutes as put together by TPN. Click on the embedded video above to see the highlights of the debate.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Do We Really Care About the National Popular Vote?
Political scientists' models have been predicting an overwhelming victory by Obama since the summer. Their models are largely based on the perception of the economy's strength and the popularity of the sitting president - both dismal. But that's for the popular vote and what matters is the electoral college. Above Nate Silver of the site explains his site which relies on complex math computing based on a number of polls to decide the electoral count. If you want it very simply, go to Electoral Vote or a similar page with CNN and you will be able to click on any state and see vote totals pop up.