Now updated for the 2016 Presidential Elections.
Although the Constitution does not specify how many candidates may run for president (for more on that, see Catherine’s book Understanding Presidential Elections and the Constitution), we typically think of it as simply a two party race – between the Republicans and the Democrats. But this year there are actually at least five candidates who will appear on ballots in twenty or more states: Hillary Clinton (Democrat), Donald Trump (Republican), Darrell Castle (Constitution), Jill Stein (Green party), and Gary Johnson, (Libertarian).
No third party candidates have yet won a presidential election, but some consider Ross Perot’s participation in the 1992 race as instrumental in George H.W. Bush’s defeat then, and Ralph Nader’s participation in the 2000 race as causing the defeat of Al Gore. There is concern (or hope, depending on your point of view) that one or more of the current third party candidates will influence the 2016 election also. There are a number of battleground states with high electoral votes that are currently considered “up for grabs” – and there is some possibility that one or more of the third party candidates could receive enough votes to cost Clinton or Trump critical electoral votes as a result. (For more on the Electoral College, see Catherine’s book on Understanding the Electoral College.)
In this e-book you have six different activities to help you and your students better understand the candidates that are running and the parties they represent. I give some suggestions for a possible order to do those activities, but as always, please adapt these materials and these suggestions in the manner that best fits your family/class. I had an older group of students in mind when I wrote these, but several could be used with upper elementary students as well.