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Teaching activity

Getting started on US Politics - red, blue or purple?

Ruth Tarrant

9th September 2016

Here's another introductory activity you could use with new students of US politics. This lesson idea focuses on which parties dominate (if either!) in various US states.

Start by allocating each student or pair of students a different state. One way of differentiating this activity is to allocate the main Swing States (e.g. Ohio, Florida, Colorado, New Hampshire) to more able students as there is likely to be a bit more information for them to scrutinise.

Next, ask students to find out the following pieces of information about their states:

  1. Where is the state? (You could issue students with a blank US map that shows state outlines - you can download one for free here)
  2. Did the state vote Republican (red) or Democrat (blue) in the 2012 Presidential election
  3. What do the polls suggest about the way that voters will vote in the 2016 Presidential election? [Clinton (D) or Trump (R)]
  4. Does the state have Republican or Democrat Senators? Or a mix? Remember, each state has 2 senators!
  5. Does the state have predominantly Republican or Democrat congressmen and congresswomen in the House of Representatives?
  6. Does the state have a Republican or Democrat governor?
  7. Do Republicans or Democrats have control of the State Senate and State House?
  8. Overall, is the state Red, Blue, or Purple?

Ruth Tarrant

Ruth has been Subject Lead in Economics at tutor2u for many years after a career of teaching Economics, Business, Politics and Maths in a range of secondary schools. She is a highly experienced A level Economics Examiner, and also teaches undergraduate Economics on a very part-time basis at the University of Oxford. Ruth is passionate about making economics fun, engaging and accessible.

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