Well, today is Election Day. All the campaign ads have run, the debates finished, hands shaken, and babies kissed – now it’s time for the voters to hit the polls. Every four years, there are questions about how the electoral system works as we vote on our next President, and I expect this year to be no different. The site 270 to Win does a fantastic (bi-partisan) job of helping to understand the process.
Focused on the current election, the site is currently set to display and allow you to manipulate the interactive map as it applies to the 2010 Obama/Romney election. However, there is much more here that can be used outside of the election season.
In addition to the current interactive map, you and your students can view the electoral maps for every presidential election, beginning in 1789. They will have the ability to compare and contrast trends in how the states voted throughout history as well as the changes in how some states assigned electors and would then cast their votes. You can also view this data through the top menu bar by choosing the “States” option.
Election simulations can be run for the 2012, based on the polling data that is kept under the “polls” section. It is an interesting exercise to see how the polls shift based on certain events and state by state as election season progresses. Students can even clear the map on the front page and run their own simulation, or prediction, from there. A fantastic exercise is to try and make a prediction based on the constant polling that is done, especially in the “battleground states”.
Try reading and subscribing to 270 to Win’s blog as well to learn many items about how elections, polls, and their simulations are run. There is also a great deal of history and “what if” scenarios addressed in their blog. Try having students take the Electoral College quiz to see if they understand how the system works – maybe even you can try your hand at it!
Regardless of your personal politics or how you might use this site, I ask you only that you take the time today to not only go out and vote, but after tonight, regardless of outcome, continue to be active in your local, state, and national politics. We are most active in exercising our rights around the election, but to continue to remain active and diligent in holding our leaders accountable throughout the year is our most important duty in this republic.