Denton S. Gehr,II, Edward C. Reed High School, Sparks,NV TITLE: The Presidential Campaign Game GRADE LEVEL: Appropriate for grades 11-12 OVERVIEW: Many people in the United States have very little knowledge concerning the complexity of campaigning for a political office, especially the complexity for campaigning for the office of President of the United States. Very little is known by the average American citizen about the complex organization needed to help a candidate win the election in a Presidential campaign. Winning public office is a two-stage process. The first stage is to win the nomination of one of the two major American political parties. Once nominated, the candidate moves to the second step: winning the election to the office itself. Unless the candidate is fortunate enough to run unopposed, the election must be won through an electoral campaign, an organized effort to persuade voters to choose one candidate over others competing for the same office. A full-blown Presidential campaign proceeds through three broad stages: building a base, planning a strategy, and clinching the vote. In building a base, campaign workers must be recruited and sources of funds must be identified. In planning a strategy, a campaign theme must be adopted and can be party-centered, issue-centered, or personality- oriented. In clinching the vote, the candidate must meet the voting groups and counter the opponents arguments. Many factors help shape decisions at these three stages of the campaign, whether the candidate is campaigning to win the nomination or to win the office itself. PURPOSE: The purpose of this political game is to give the students experience in working within the political process. The game will also give the students an understanding of the many dimensions of the political process and what is needed to manage a political campaign. OBJECTIVES: Students will be able to: 1. Identify by name the two major political parties in the United States. 2. Identify the two major party chairmen. 3. Identify the symbols of the two political parties. 4. Identify the political "philosophies" of the two political parties. 5. Identify the "propaganda" techniques used by both of the parties in campaigning. 6. Identify the fund raising techniques of the two parties. 7. Identify and locate the local and state headquarters of the two parties. ACTIVITIES: 1. The class will be divided into small groups, and from these groups, candidates will be chosen to run for President of the United States. 2. The remainder of the group will act as the candidate's campaign committee. 3. Each committee must select a political party name for itself. The name of the party must be one that is made-up by the campaign committee of each candidate. Try to select a party name that will enhance the chances of your candidate winning the election! 4. After your party caucus, the party names will be presented to the class as a whole, and the name selected as the best, will earn for the party 20 points. 5. One person from each group will be appointed as the evaluator for the group. This person will evaluate the materials and assign points for each of the following campaign items: a. 20 points: a bumpersticker b. 20 points: a street sign c. 20 points: a campaign slogan d. 20 points: a name for your political party e. 20 points: a "throwaway" flyer f. 50 points: five give away items g. 50 points: a fifteen second radio commercial (television) h. 20 points: a newspaper ad i. 50 points: a fund raising social activity j. 30 points: a secret that will help your candidate win the election These items will be required of each group and the manufacture and design of these materials are to be agreed upon by each group. These items are to be as realistic as possible! The evaluators will evaluate each group's campaign items and the final point count will be tallied by an independent auditor -- the classroom teacher! 6. Presidential speeches will be given by each candidate and will be limited to three minutes. This will be the candidates' times to sell their programs and themselves. 7. The election will take place by secret ballot in the class and a special committee will be selected by the teacher to count the ballots. May the best candidate win! RESOURCES/MATERIALS NEEDED: There are many resources within the school and within the community. TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: For the past two years I have videotaped this game in a number of my classes and have played back the final day when the candidates have given their speeches and the vote was in. Many of the students often want to play the game again because they have come up with new ideas and feel that they can win the election if given another chance. The game has also turned many of the students toward becoming involved in "real" campaign. Many of my students have joined political parties and have helped candidates at all levels in their campaigns. This game makes government "fun" and makes the students realize that they can play a part in the political process!
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