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October 17, 2014

Do the midterm elections matter? – Lesson Plan

By Stephanie Schragger, History teacher at St. Ann’s School


Help students gain an understanding of midterm elections and to discuss the reasons why voter turnout may be low in the 2014 elections.


Civics, government, current events, ELA

Estimated Time

One 45 minute class period

Grade Level



Warm Up Activity

Explain the basics of the elections in the House and the Senate

See the questions on the worksheet about the site listed below

  • The House elects every two years and the Senate elects every six years; therefore, there are seats that are up for election between every presidential election.
  • The midterm elections are often connected to how the public feels about the president as well as presidential job approval ratings.
  • Use the Data Table with students to complete this part of the lesson

Main Activities

1. 1994 midterm elections – why people consider these historically significant?

  • Read the Midterm Elections Information Text with students as a class, in small groups or individually.

2. 2014 midterm elections

See the questions on the worksheet about this site

  • The New York Times lists six states where the races are undecided: North Carolina, Kansas, Colorado, Iowa, Alaska, Louisiana
  • Students can examine the infographic to see how few people will actually decide the races that will determine the composition of the Senate
  • Students can also go to the 538 blog to see another examination of six states that are leaning Republican: “The Maroon 6”
  • Similarly, students should read the PBS NewsHour article about the recent uncertainties in the midterm election

Extension Activities:

  • Students can discuss in more detail the reasons why voters are not interested in this election using this PBS NewsHour article.
  • Students can look at the issues that are dividing voters.
  • Students could examine one of these issues in greater depth.
  • Students could track the states where the races are close from now through the election.
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