Academy Curricular Exchange
Columbia Education Center
Social Studies



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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John Kurilecjmk@ofcn.org