Starting the Discussion
The facts below are designed to get students focused on Campaign '96. Teachers might use the facts to launch a general discussion of why campaigns turn out as they do and what happens to the nation as a result.
Sources: R. Hart, The Sound of Leadership, University of Chicago Press, 1987; H. Schantz (ed.), American Presidential Elections, S.U.N.Y. Press, 1996; M. Delli-Carpini and S. Keeter, What Americans Know About Politics and Why It Matters, Yale University Press, 1996; FRONTLINE (www.pbs.org).
- In 1996, there will be a total of 538 electoral votes; a candidate needs 270 to win.
- Ohio gets more visits from presidential candidates during a campaign than any other state in the nation.
- Today's most prominent "swing voters" (people who switch from Democrat to Republican and back) are Catholics and blue-collar workers.
- Politicians participate in public events and ceremonies four times more often than they hold press conferences.
- While individuals are limited to $1,000 contributions, Treasure Island Casinos gave $30,800 to Dole's `96 campaign, and AT&T Corporation gave $30,700 to the Clinton campaign.
- The more factually informed a voter becomes about politics, the more tolerant and community-minded he or she is likely to be.
- Turnout in the U.S. for presidential elections averages 55.2% of eligible voters.
- 15% of Perot's 1992 voters said they would have stayed home on election day if he had dropped out of the campaign.
- The percentage of Independent voters doubled between 1962 and 1992; 30% of young voters now describe themselves as Independents.
- A president running for reelection has a 2-to-1 chance of being returned to office.
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