Video Exercise

In Chapter 8, we discussed the strategic context of presidential elections. One of the major institutional arrangements that influence candidate behavior in these elections is the Electoral College. Go to the following website and take a look at the Electoral College map.

You can “play” with combinations of states necessary to reach the magical “270”: the number of electoral votes necessary to win a majority in the Electoral College and claim the presidency.

You might also try your hand at an interactive game that asks you to allocate resources with an eye toward building an Electoral College majority.

Certain speeches have had a major impact on subsequent presidential candidacies. In 2004, former Vermont governor Howard Dean drew criticism for his words following his loss in the Iowa precinct caucuses.

If you were advising Dean, what would you have told him after this speech? How would you have advised him to handle the news media and public reaction?

In 2008, Alaska governor Sarah Palin was picked by Republican nominee John McCain to be his vice-presidential candidate. Here is her speech following this announcement.

Do you think this was an effective speech? Why or why not? Can you think of potential problems it might have introduced?

In the next clip, we see Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announcing his candidacy in 2011. What do you think Romney was trying to accomplish with this speech? Does it give clues with respect to his broader strategy?

Finally, here is Barack Obama’s speech accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination at their 2008 national convention in Denver.

Given what you know about conventions and how candidates use them to position themselves for the general election, what do you think of Obama’s speech? What was the main strategic objective for Obama here? Do you think he was effective?

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