ADDITIONAL LESSON IDEAS: Public Financing of Campaigns


Invite students to research the role of public financing in the 2008 presidential campaign.

  • First, direct them to the Center for Responsive Politics' "Banking on Becoming President" Web site to learn more about how much money the candidates in 2008 have raised and how these numbers compare to 2004.
  • Then, ask them to become more familiar with the history and goals of public financing in campaigns on the Common Cause Web site.

    • What are some reasons why public financing emerged in the United States?
    • What are some benefits of this option for presidential candidates?
    • What are some limitations?
    • Will the benefits outweigh the risks?
    • Should the system be reformed?
    • If no, why? If so, how?


Sen. Obama will not be accepting public funds in 2008.

  • How do students think this decision will affect the election? Why?


Internet Resources

Common Cause: Presidential Public Financing
This detailed explanation of the presidential public financing system in Q-and-A format is provided by Common Cause, a nonpartisan advocacy organization founded by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process.


Center for Responsive Politics: Banking on Becoming President
This site allows users to track where each candidate's financial support comes from, how it is spent, and how that money affects policy and citizens' lives.


The Campaign Finance Institute
This nonpartisan institute, affiliated with The George Washington University, provides information and research about campaign finance and campaign finance reform.


Related Lesson Plans on PBS Sites

NOW -- Campaign Finance Reform


By the People -- Campaign Finance Simulation

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