Unit2B_VotingandElections - 1 Unit 2B Campaigns and...

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1 Unit 2B: Campaigns and Elections Campaigns, Voters and Advertising Landmark Elections The 2008 Election During his 1956 presidential campaign, a woman called out to Adlai E. Stevenson: Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” Stevenson replied: That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!” Expected Outcomes : To understand how political candidates conduct campaigns; to comprehend how the American electoral system works and how the electoral map reveals political turning points; and to analyze the style and substance of leading candidates in the 2008 election. Unit 2B Overview Today, American politics has come a long way since the days of whistle- stop tours and street pamphlets, which, before the age of television, encapsulated political messages. Some Presidential Campaign Slogans from the Past 1860 Abraham Lincoln Vote Yourself a Farm 1864 Abraham Lincoln Don't swap horses in the middle of the stream 1888 Benjamin Harrison Rejuvenated Republicanism 1896 William McKinley Patriotism, Protection, and Prosperity 1900 William McKinley A Full Dinner Bucket More sophistication has now entered the process of campaign and elections. Politicians hone their messages with “focus groups” and, often, modify their positions based on opinion polls. As this Unit travels across time, it reveals that the technology and sophistication of campaigns has changed dramatically. That being said, it is
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2 not possible to say that campaigns are more substantive today than in previous decades or centuries. In the age of the whistle-stop tour, not many Americans were exposed to political messages – but those who were often got an earful. Consider, for example, the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 (held for a US Senate seat from Illinois), were complex, nuanced, and substantive. Today, television enables candidates to reach out to tens of millions of people, but they often do so with a simplistic mix of soundbites, catchphrases and bumper-sticker slogans. Elections for Congress are held at the state level, and rules vary from state to state. This unit is primarily concerned with campaigns and elections for national office – for the Presidency. The United States Electoral College is the official name of the group of Presidential Electors who are chosen every four years to cast the electoral vote and thereby elect the President and Vice President of the United States. It was established by Article Two, Section One of the United States Constitution, which provides for a quadrennial election of Presidential Electors in each state. In each election, there are 538 possible electoral points to be won (270 are needed to win), with large states such as California worth more than small states such as Rhode Island. There is a rough but not exact correlation between population size and electoral points. The Electoral College dilutes the votes of population centers that might have
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Unit2B_VotingandElections - 1 Unit 2B Campaigns and...

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