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Presidential Elections - Tasks

Questions for discussion.

Every four years, the eyes of the world turn to the United States, when Americans elect their president. Why does the American election attract more attention than any other presidential election? Is it because what happens in the USA has an impact on the entire world? Or, might it be that the American elections at times can look more like entertainment than politics?

These tasks are based on the text Presidential Elections

Answer the Questions

  1. What strikes you as the main difference between the Norwegian and the American election system?
  2. Explain what happens at a caucus.
  3. How do the parties determine how many delegates to send to the national conventions?
  4. How many delegates are selected at primaries and caucuses?
  5. National party conventions have changed radically over the years. How and why have they changed?
  6. How was it decided when Election Day would be held?
  7. Why was the Electoral College system devised?
  8. What happens if there is a tie in the Electoral College?
  9. How might a state react towards an elector who does not vote according to the wishes of the people of the state?


  1. Some critics claimed that Barack Obama was not a natural-born citizen of the United States and thus ineligible for the office as president. What raised this issue, do you think?
  2. Why do you think the caucus in Iowa attracts so much attention?
  3. Discuss how democratic the American electoral system is.
  4. Some argue that the Electoral College is obsolete. Discuss this view.
  5. Can you think of a reason, if you look back on the history of the United States, that might explain why they did not go for direct elections? What made the Founding Fathers, in 1787, take this extra precaution by including an extra stage in the election procedure?
  6. Discuss the pros and cons of a two-party system and a multi-party system.
  7. Discuss the pros and cons of a “winner-takes-all” system and a system of proportional representation.
  8. Look at the first couple of minutes of the following three film clips from the 2008 Democratic Convention. Based on what you have learned in class and what you see in these clips, describe national party conventions to a fellow student and discuss the importance of these conventions in class. Barack Obama-Incredible Ending at DNC Barack Obama Acceptance Speech Senator Kennedy's Speech at DNC 2008
  9. Why do you think the Inaugural Address of a new president attracts so much attention?


US Politics

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