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Lesson Plans

Election 2020 update: As Biden clinches nomination, candidates set strategies

June 10, 2020

Full Lesson



Directions: Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. This video has been edited for length. To watch the video in its entirety or read the transcript, click here. 

Summary: Joe Biden formally clinched the Democratic party nomination for president on June 6. In the polls, Biden is ahead of President Trump by several points in battleground states that Trump won in 2016, including Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona.

  • Several of these polling leads are within the margin of error ( = the amount of variability we can expect around a candidate’s projected support).
  • Amy Walters says that one of Biden’s strategies is to win voters who voted for neither President Trump nor Hillary Clinton in 2016.
  • Trump’s strategy is to engage new voters who didn’t vote in 2016 and who match the demographics that tend to support him: white voters without a college degree.
  • Tuesday also saw Georgians waiting in lines for hours to cast their ballot and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina defeating GOP challengers.

Voters line up outside of a polling location to cast their ballots after Democratic and Republican primaries were delayed due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. June 9, 2020. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers

Discussion questions:

  1. Essential question: What strategies are Democrats and Republicans using in order to get more votes in the general election? Which strategy do you think will be most effective?
  2. What are some factors that might affect who shows up to vote? How might an incumbent ( = current) president or a presidential candidate try to influence who shows up to vote?
  3. Media literacy: When you’re looking at polls, what is a margin of error? If you’re not sure, go review this Pew Research Center resource. Why do news sources report on small leads in the polls, even when they’re within the margin of error? Do you think those leads are important information to have, or is the data too unreliable to be trusted?

Extension activity: 

Polling station closings (partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic) have already led to enormous lines and dysfunction in 2020 primaries. However, this isn’t the first time that many polling stations have closed down. In the years leading up to the 2018 midterm election, officials closed down thousands of polling places and reduced staff nationwide, citing cost savings and alternative voting methods. These closings placed a disproportionate burden on minority counties.

  1. Check out this interactive map of polling places in the U.S. in 2016. Note that the darker a county is, the more voters are crammed into a single voting site. Scroll over your county to see how many voters there are per polling site, how many voters there are per poll staffer, and what percentage of your county’s residents are nonwhite. Check out some other counties. Do you see any correlations?
  2. Click the arrow at the top-left of the page to see a graph of polling place disparities by percent of a county that is nonwhite. Are you surprised by what you find? How might this information have affected how many people were able to vote in 2016?

Today’s Daily News Story was written by EXTRA’s intern Carolyn McCusker, a senior at Amherst College.

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*For monthly updates from our Super Civics 2020 series containing classroom resources on Election 2020, click here.


Media literacy education

What is media literacy?

Media literacy is the ability to access, evaluate and create all types of media, including news media.

All of NewsHour Classroom's resources contain lessons in media literacy, including questions like who produced the piece and what do you know about them?

Start by evaluating this video introducing NewsHour Classroom here.