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Podcast Classroom Guide: Researching candidates

In this episode, Anna Brown and Mike Dunbar walk through the process of finding candidates on the ballot and choosing who to vote for. In addition to basic information about candidate research, they discuss how to evaluate primary and secondary sources, including candidate statements. 

Key concepts/standards

  • Civic rights and responsibilities
    • SS:CV:8:4.1: Describe and analyze ways Americans can effectively participate in civic and political life at the local, state, and federal levels, e.g., problem solving, public engagement, or voting. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, J: Human Expression and Communication)
    • SS:CV:12:4.1: Demonstrate responsible practices within the political process, e.g., registering to vote or taking civic action. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)
  • The nature and purpose of government
    • SS:CV:12:1.1: Identify the structures and functions of government at various levels, e.g., county—role of the sheriff’s office, or nation—role of providing the defense of the country. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)

Discussion questions

  • Why is it important to research a candidate’s background and issue positions?
  • What are some trusted resources for researching candidates? What makes a source trustworthy?
  • Have students select a candidate, then summarize the candidate’s background and where they stand on at least three important issues.
  • Hold a mock election. Discuss how students went about making their choices—what tradeoffs were involved?
  • Select a New Hampshire town and see what offices will be up for election. Can you describe the function of each of these offices and how they fit in the broader government structure?
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