Education Technology

NCSS: Electoral College and Political Strategy

Activity Overview

Students will work as teams of political strategists for either a Democratic or Republican presidential candidate. They will devise a campaign strategy to help their candidate win the electoral college vote by the most efficient means possible.

Before the Activity

See the attached Activity PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity.

Print the appropriate pages from the Activity for your class.

Install the CellSheet(tm) App on the students' graphing calculators following the attached instructions.

Review the total number of electoral votes (538), and the number needed to win the presidency (270). Discuss with the students the complexities of organizing a presidential campaign, and in particular, the need to have a focused strategy to campaign in the most efficient way.

During the Activity

  • Distribute the appropriate pages from the Activity to your class
  • Follow the procedures outlined in the Activity

  • Students will:
  • Examine the workings and history of the Electoral College system.
  • Evaluate the merits of the Electoral College system in the face of its historic behavior relative to the popular vote in national elections.
  • Design a campaign strategy for a modern-day presidential election based upon projections from data on past elections.
  • After the Activity

    1. Ask groups from each party who had the fewest states to win.
    2. Once students turn in their Campaign Strategy Summary Sheet, discuss the different approaches groups employed in developing their strategies.
    3. Discuss how this approach would be both practical and impractical in a presidential election.
    4. Discuss whether or not they feel that employing this type of strategy of focusing on electoral votes instead of popular votes is either smart politics or subverting the will of the majority of citizens in an election.
    5. Each student should write a brief position statement addressing the question above.