Daily VideoOctober 23, 2017
Are there congressional and gubernatorial elections still left in 2017? Hint: YES!
Note: The video is from the July 2017 debate between the Virginia gubernatorial candidates moderated by PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff. The final debate took place on Oct. 9, 2017.
- You may be surprised to learn that several elections remain in 2017, including two gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia and a special election in Utah for a congressional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 7. In Alabama, there will be a special election for U.S. Senate on Dec. 12, 2017.
- In all, seven special House and Senate races will have taken place in 2017 — five to fill vacancies left by members of the Trump administration. A special election is held when a lawmaker resigns, dies or is removed from office before they have completed their term.
- While the Democratic candidate in New Jersey, Philip Murphy, has a substantial lead in the polls over Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the Republican candidate, the Virginia race is tighter. In July, PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff moderated a debate in Virginia between Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate, and Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate.
- Depending on time, you may want to show your students footage that deals with specific issues. One event that you may also want to discuss occurs early on (5m:40s) when a protester interrupts the debate and has to be escorted out of the room.
- Candidates met again on Oct. 9 for a final debate.
- Looking ahead to the 2018 midterm elections, the Illinois governor’s race may be on track to be the most expensive in U.S. history with $100 million already being spent by all of the candidates. However, most of the spending has come from the two leading candidates’ themselves, a millionaire Republican incumbent and a billionaire Democrat.
- The Republican party currently holds majorities in both houses of Congress. Democrats will need to win 24 seats in order to take control of the House in 2018.
- Essential question: How much do debates matter when deciding which candidate to elect?
- What is the difference between a special election and a midterm election?
- Similar to midterm elections, special elections have a much lower voter turnout compared to presidential election years.
- Why do you think this is the case?
- What needs to happen to improve low voter turnout in special elections?
- Had you heard about the seven special elections and two gubernatorial elections taking place in 2017 prior to this lesson? Give possible reasons, depending on your answer.
- How might the election of individual candidates affect the overall political system?
- Why do you think the protester took the approach he did during the July gubernatorial debate in Virginia? Do you agree or disagree with his actions? Explain your response.
- State Sen. Daniel Biss who is also running in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary in Illinois has raised $2.7 million mainly from small donations, a tiny amount compared to the two wealthy leading candidates. The former math professor asks: “Are we going to have an election or are we going to have an auction?”
- What point do you think Bliss was trying to make in his question?
- Do you think there should be limits on how much a candidate can spend on his/her own campaign? Explain your answer.
- Note: In Illinois, once a candidate spends more than $250,000 of his/her own money, there is no longer any cap put on how much his/her campaign can spend. What are the campaign finance laws in your state regarding governor’s races? State Senate and House races?
Use this PBS lesson plan “Hosting a presidential debate” to hold a debate in your class on one of the four upcoming 2017 elections from Line 1 above or watch the video below. While the lesson says it’s geared to presidential elections, it can easily be adapted for the upcoming gubernatorial and congressional races.
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