Home > A3, Learning > The Truth about Presidential Elections

The Truth about Presidential Elections

During the course of my third trimester of Government class, I have learned many new things about the roles and processes that take place in our government. The most interesting topic, in my opinion, has been the process of a presidential election. I had always wondered how somebody can become a United States President and hold the most powerful position in the world. I always thought that the president was decided by who ever had the highest amount of votes from the American people, but then I learned the truth about presidential elections. I learned that winning just the overall popular vote doesn’t always guarantee a spot in the Whitehouse; it is a little bit more complicated than that.

Presidential elections aren’t won through the popular vote, they’re actually won through electoral college votes. Each state has a different number of electoral college votes and they are all used on which ever candidate wins the popular vote in that state alone. Before any ballots are ever cast, Presidential campaigns have to identify potential states that they feel they can win in. For example, if the candidate that is running for President is a Republican then he can pretty guarantee to win the vote in Texas because it has been a very Republican based state for a long time. However, for a state like Colorado it is unclear which part will win the vote because the state has a long history of voting pretty evenly for either party. It isn’t very predictable which party they may vote for in the election, and that is why most people would call Colorado a swing state. Swing states are often the deciding factor in whether or not a candidate wins the election. In one of our classes, we simulated the job of presidential campaigners that had to identify which states would vote Democrat and Republican. The activity helped me figure out why candidates may target certain states more than others. This video can help further expand on the importance of swing states on presidential elections. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFmIbrPWJ1g

Another thing I found to be interesting while covering the topic of presidential elections is the role of the Electoral College. I found out that each state has a different number of Electoral College votes, which ultimately decides who wins the Presidential nomination. The number of electoral votes for each state is equal to the number of senators plus the number of House Representatives. In the 2012 Election,California has the highest number of electoral votes with 55, and Texas has the second most votes with 38. To finish the activity earlier mentioned, we had to add up the number of votes for states that we predicted to vote Republican and Democrat. The blue states are Democratic, the red states are Republican, and the tan states are swing states.

In order to use the simulator yourself you can go to www.270towin.com

The activities we did in class really helped me to find out how presidential elections really happen and how they develop their strategies for the campaigns. I definitely think it was an important topic for the whole class to learn, especially to educate young future votes. I recommend continuing this activity in future classes because I feel that it was very effective and gave essential information for the young adults in our classroom.

  1. May 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Good work!

    … just one note of clarification: when you write: “Presidential elections aren’t won through the popular vote,” I would suggest ‘national popular vote’ instead. Remember, electors are ‘pledged” to vote for the candidate who wins the popular vote in their state.

    When we talk about reforming “the electoral college system,” then, what we are typically talking about is questioning the wisdom of having 50 ‘winner-takes-all’ elections for president – one in every state – where the winner of each state receives an assigned number of electoral votes… instead of a nation-wide contest where the candidate with the most votes wins (plain and simple).

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