I would teach something like this.

Watch this –

  • Ask students for general observations.
  • Watch again and ask them to focus on a particular region of the country and repeat the observations.

Introduce them to this tool– http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/10/15/us/politics/swing-history.html

You can go a number of ways from here –

  • Students can again do general observations.
  • You could have students look at a particular election.
  • You could also have students watch a particular state over time.
  • They could be watching for trends, anomalies, you could ask them to come up with which state was most consistent, least.

After all this observing and analyzing, ask them what questions they have about these trends and patterns and presidential elections.

Possible continuation of the inquiry – have students sample examples from The Living Room Candidate – http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/ – these are my favorites!

Students are to look at a particular election year, reference the graphic and start to make some connections about what was happening at that time.  Students could then (either) create a new campaign ad for the current candidates in the ‘old’ style or create a new campaign ad for an old candidate in the new style.  You could give them the charge of appealing to a particular swing state… now or then.  This can all move in the direction of having them assess their own issue preferences, what they are concerned with and how that compared in history to other times.

Then spend sometime with this amazing graphic to discuss the cascading possibilities on election day this year – 512 Paths to the White House.  Then on Election Day have them go out to the polls – http://www.curriki.org/xwiki/bin/view/Coll_dlaufenberg/ElectionDay – and as you watch the results roll in open a todaysmeet room or a private chat room (we used Moodle at SLA)