HOT TOPIC: State Elections
Volume 3, Issue 5 - October 8, 2006

"Off-year elections are here once again, and while they don’t offer the glitz and glamour of national elections they can offer unique insight into the political landscape.

First off, there’s the look at how hot issues are playing themselves out in state elections. Fiscal issues, law and order, education, social concerns, foreign trade and international elections: different states and regions look at these topics through very different perspectives. Comparing how issues are playing out in your home state with other parts of the country is a fabulous exercise in free speech and the role of public opinion in the democratic process.

Then there’s the consideration of midterm elections as a barometer of how the federal government is perceived by voters two years before the next presidential contest. If the incumbent has been successful in his administration and is popular among voters, many midterm candidates running under his or her party banner may be swept into office. On the other hand, if the present administration is not deemed popular or successful, the opposition party may enjoy midterm success, potentially causing a shift in power in the house and senate.

Finally there’s the state races themselves, where governors and state legislators are elected to serve their citizens. These races are key, because they reflect the national political mood and serve as a precursor to our national elections in 2008. Also, governorships are a popular training ground for future presidential hopefuls. Chief executives at the state level are well-prepared to serve at the federal level. In fact, four of our last five presidents were former governors.

This week’s issue of the D12 presents to you more than a dozen high-quality resources that cover the congress and state and local governments, 2006 election data, the process of legislation, the value of citizenship and the right to vote. There are lessons and materials that can help make your classroom come alive for the next month as the election cycle runs its course. Not having elections in your area? Not a problem! There’s plenty of action across the nation for you and your students to check out"

©2005 Walter McKenzie

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