Directions: Read the summary below first, then watch the video (you may want to stop the video at 2m:43s, for the sake of time) and answer the discussion questions. To help students follow along, turn on the closed captions function marked “CC” or use the transcript. You may also wish to read the NewsHour article here, which highlights the 30 House races that pollsters see as toss-ups.
The 2018 midterm elections will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 U.S. Senate seats will be contested. In the House, the Republican Party holds the majority of seats, 236 seats to Democrats’ 193 seats (six seats are vacant). On the Senate side, there are 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats (including two independents). On Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, Massachusetts held primaries and Ayanna Pressley beat the man who had held the seat for 10 terms.
There are also several interesting races for governor, which can indicate whether a state is moving more to the Republicans or Democrats. Last week’s primaries for Florida governor drew national attention after the victory of Mayor Andrew Gillum, a progressive African American Democrat and Trump-backed GOP nominee Ron DeSantis. Here are three races to monitor: Arizona U.S. Senate, Florida governor, Nevada U.S. Senate.
Discuss questions as a class or with a partner or craft a written response.
1. Essential question: How much does a diverse field of candidates demonstrate the democratic process in action?
2. How does a candidate’s choice of words reflect their beliefs and how they will govern? (Optional: You may want to use the example involving racially charged words from the Florida governor’s race at 6m:40s to 8m:22s)
3. Why are Arizona candidates Rep. Martha McSally and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema both viewed as ‘establishment’ candidates on behalf of their political parties?
4. Local and state elections will take place in every city and town across the country in just two months. Who’s on the ballot where you live?
5. Media literacy: In the cover photo for the NewsHour story, Erin Beazzo and her daughter, Fionna Beazzo, are seen leaving a polling station on Florida primary election day. Did your parent or family member ever take you to the polls on election day? What are some possible effects of bringing a child to the polls?
6. Pollsters consider Nevada’s Sen. Dean Heller the most vulnerable Republican in the Senate this fall. President Donald Trump has loomed large in the race, but public support for Trump has been sliding, and the state went for the Democrat in the last three presidential elections. Watch the video below, “Immigration is on voters minds in key Nevada Senate race,” and answer the following two questions (for the sake of time, you may want to stop the video at 4m:55s, or read the transcript instead.):
a. How do voters from seemingly similar backgrounds end up with different political ideologies (belief systems)? Or, when it comes to politics, why are humans so complex?
b. Would you vote for a candidate based on where he/she stands on just one issue? Explain your answer.
Visit PBS NewsHour Extra for more education resources designed to help teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories. @NewsHourExtra