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Explore Issues in Campaigning

Inform Yourself

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Consider how the electoral college system influences presidential campaign strategy. Presidential campaigns don’t try to win over every voter in every state; rather, they focus on winning enough states to get to 270 votes in the electoral college. Check out www.270towin.com to see the battleground states in the 2012 election, compared to the 2008 and 2004 elections. Which states have changed? Which have stayed the same?
2.
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Consider alternatives to the electoral college. One proposed electoral reform is called the National Popular Vote. View the video Make Every State Purple (www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhOZCKac6os). What are the advantages of a system based on the popular vote? What are the advantages of the electoral college system?
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Find out who pays for campaigns. Visit the New York Times 2012 Money Race (http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance) to see how much was money was raised and spent during the election. How much was raised by the candidates, the parties, and Super PACs? Visit Open Secrets via its Facebook page to see who the big spenders were in 2012. Are you surprised?
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Express Yourself

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Share your thoughts on where presidential candidates should campaign. View a map of state populations using the 2010 census (http://www.census.gov/2010census/popmap/). About a third of the population lives in one of five states (Texas, California, Florida, New York, or Illinois), yet only one of these has recently been a battleground state. The average voter in a battleground state will view nearly 300 television ads during the campaign, compared to just a half dozen in a non-swing state. Campaign ads and other campaign events help educate voters about the candidates and their policy positions. Where do you think candidates should campaign?
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Follow the money in your area. Go to Follow the Money (www.followthemoney.org) and look up how much money was spent on elections in your state in the last few years. Enter your address to find out about money spent in your legislative district, or click on the “Who represents me?” boxes to find out. Which groups on industries provide the most money to your lawmakers? With this information, consider e-mailing or calling your lawmaker to express your opinion about money in politics.

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