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Lesson Idea: Presidential Candidate Research


Using C-SPAN’s Video Library and Campaign 2016 site, students will research and evaluate candidates for any election based on their positions on key policy issues.   Through watching clips of candidate speeches, students will determine the candidates’ position on the economy, foreign policy, health care, immigration, and more. Then, students will compare and contrast the candidates’ views with their own views.


  • Students will identify and research candidates’ positions on key policy issues.
  • Students will evaluate the views of the candidates and compare them to their own views



  • Policy Platform
  • Taxes
  • Economy
  • Foreign Policy
  • Health Care
  • Immigration
  • Energy/Environment


STEP 1. 
Introduce the topic by having students writing a short paragraph explaining which issue(s) is most important to them in the upcoming election. Then, have a discussion with the class in which students share the issues from their paragraph.
STEP 2. 
Students will research the positions of the Presidential candidates through watching the videos from the C-SPAN Video Library and/or Campaign 2016 website. Students can also view each candidate’s campaign website for more information on each issue.

a)      Students can complete the research individually, in small groups, or as homework. 
b)      The research can be based around an issue (the students would research how all the candidates view that issue), or a candidate (one candidate’s view on all the issues).
c)       Students or groups can complete all the necessary research, or groups can complete one aspect of it, then present their portion to the entire class
STEP 3. 
Once the research is completed, students should answer the research summary questions.
STEP 4. 
Students will write a position paper in which they determine which candidates’ views most align with their views on the key policy issues. The paper should include:

a)      Explanation of which issues are most important to them
b)      Determination of which candidate most aligns with their views
c)       Specific examples from their research to justify position from point b)
(For more information on position papers, or for other evaluation options, please see the Activities Page from the C-SPAN Classroom Deliberations website.)