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Reading an electoral map.

What will it take to be elected the next U.S. President? The answer has changed since the last election!

Every 10 years, the U.S. conducts a census (count of the population), in part to determine the number of seats each state should be given in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The results also determine the number of Electoral College votes for each state, which is equal to the number of its U.S. Senators and Representatives.

The 2000 Census data changed the number of electoral votes in 18 states for the next two presidential elections. Some states, like Texas, had a big population increase according to the 2000 Census. They gained electoral votes. But other states, like New York and Ohio, had a decrease in population and lost votes.

Several of the states that gained electoral votes normally vote for Republican presidential candidates. Had the 2000 election been held using the new electoral vote numbers, President Bush would have won seven more electoral votes.

It takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. The map shows how many votes each state will have in the 2004 Electoral College. The color key shows how many votes each state gained or lost, or if there has been no change.

Study the map, and then answer the following questions.


1. Which state has the largest number of electoral votes? --

2. How many votes did this state gain or lose as a result of the 2000 Census? --

3. Which state has the second-largest number of electoral votes? --

4. How many votes did this state gain of lose after the 2000 Census? --

5. How many states gained seats after the 2000 Census? --

6. How many states lost seats as a result of the 2000 Census? --

7. How many electoral votes does the District of Columbia have? --

8. Most of the states that gained votes are located in the (choose one): (A) Northeast; (B) Southeast and Southwest; (C) Northwest --

9. Most of the states that lost votes are located in the (choose one): (A) Northeast and Midwest; (B) Southeast; (C) Far West --

10. It takes 270 votes to be elected President. What are the fewest number of states a candidate can win and still be elected President? --



Students should understand:

* How to read a U.S. map charting each state's number of electors;

* How a state's number of electoral votes is equal to the sum of its Senators and Representatives in the U.S. Congress.


Ask students to identify as many U.S. Senators and Representatives from your state as possible.


The largest "landslide" in Electoral College history occurred in the 1984 U.S. presidential election. President Ronald Reagan defeated the Democratic candidate, Walter Mondale, by capturing nearly 98 percent of the Electoral College, about 525 out of 538 electoral votes, The next-largest margin of victory occurred in the 1972 election when President Richard M. Nixon defeated Democrat George McGovern, 520 electoral votes to 17.


CAUSE AND EFFECT: What determines a state's number of electoral votes? (Each state's quantity of electors is equal to the sum of its U.S. Senators and Representatives. This figure is based on a national census, which the U.S. government undertakes every 10 years.)

MAKING COMPARISONS: How many states will have the same number of electors as they had in 2000? (The number of electors in 32 states was unaffected by the 2000 census.)


ELECTION 2003: Stage a mock election in your class. Instruct students to nominate at least three classmates as candidates and assign groups to act as the campaign staff for each student candidate. Candidates and their staffs should draft political platforms, debate, and deliver speeches explaining why they should be elected. Make sure to assign some students to act as the electors. Stage art election and record the popular and electoral votes.


1. California 2. Gained one electoral vote 3. Texas 4. Gained two electoral votes 5. Eight states 6. Ten states 7. Three electoral votes 8. B 9. A 10. Twelve states
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Title Annotation:Geoskills
Publication:Junior Scholastic
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 27, 2003
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