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What Has You Stumped?

Eleven case studies demystify election procedures, clarify campaign messages and show how the public can participate in the political process.

  • Entering the Race

    Too Many Candidates vs. Too Few

    Although it’s easy for anyone to announce a bid for the presidency, the American political system makes it very difficult for anyone outside the Republican or Democratic Party to win the White House.

  • So Many Contests

    Primaries: By Invitation Only?

    Primary season can be a wild ride. Voters narrow the field of candidates in contest after contest, while the parties use complicated rules to try to control who ultimately secures the nomination.

  • Chaotic Conventions

    Hoping for Unity, Fearing Rebellion

    National conventions are supposed to be a show of party power and solidarity, but there’s always the potential for dissent. Too many internal clashes lead parties to worry about their chances for victory in November.

  • The Homestretch

    Frenzy of the Final Weeks

    In the last weeks of the campaign, candidates make a final push to sway undecided voters and strive to avoid even minor mistakes that could magnify into embarrassing gaffes.

  • Campaign Trail Theatrics

    Staging Spectacles to Win Votes

    Running for office is a lot like putting on a show. As candidates tour the country, they stage carefully choreographed events in hopes of impressing voters.

  • Raging Rhetoric

    Harnessing the Political Power of Words

    Presidential candidates know that it’s not just what you say, but how you say it. Advisers and speechwriters shape their statements for maximum effect.

  • Media Mayhem

    Controlling the Campaign Narrative

    As the election season heats up, the candidates, their political parties, special interest groups and news outlets compete to get heard. The public is left to navigate conflicting messages and separate real news from noise.

  • Ugly Ads

    Going for the Jugular

    It happens sooner or later in every political campaign: attack ads drown out the promises of positive campaigns. Do these dark battles have any value?

  • Social Media Swirl

    Public Participation Goes Viral

    Social media revolutionized how the public and candidates interact – but how effective are the latest tools for shaping election outcomes?

  • Rousing Rallies

    The Power of the Crowd

    In an age of digital communications and virtual reality, why do citizens still turn out – often in droves – to see political candidates?

  • Getting Counted

    Is the System Fair?

    Throughout U.S. history, Americans have silently stewed and actively protested that presidential elections are unfair and fixed against them. Do they have a point?

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