On the eve of the presidential election, Mr. Ward's Civics and Current Events class is wrapping up a simulated election that gives Ursuline students hands-on experience managing a political campaign. Tasked with running the campaign for a fictional candidate, Juanita Sanchez, students were in charge of getting her elected with the use of proper strategy, targeting, fundraising, and mobilization. Students paired up and broke off into different positions on the campaign team. Together, a class of twenty students transformed into party officials, campaign managers, and pollsters, and found themselves doing opposition research, outreach to unregistered voters, fundraising, and speech-writing.
“In class, we have been working on the campaign of Juanita Sanchez, a married mother of three, running for a state representative position in the Florida legislature. As the party coordinator, I have been able to see how political parties offer support for their candidates while pushing certain ideas and issues that they’d like to see as part of the candidate’s platform. I had always understood the basic ideals of the Democratic and Republican parties, but actually getting to work in a political party has truly allowed me to better understand how they offer support and guidance to a candidate,” said Dottie Parlon ‘21.
The class broke the election down into three stages: group strategies, the campaign roll-out, and a crisis response. They got into pairs for stage one and put together a plan that outlines their duties, their strategy, and their goals within the campaign. Students also created supplemental pieces to support what they were doing. These pieces included yard signs to get the candidate’s name out, polling surveys to better understand which issues they need to push harder on, slogans, and speeches. In doing this, they were able to identify their candidate’s main issues, demographics, communications strategy, and who their candidate was as a person.
Stage two was a campaign roll-out in which they implemented their strategies, presented their plans to the class, and debated the specifics of their campaign. Stage three was a crisis response. During class time, each pair was given an issue and had to figure out how to respond to it. For example, pollsters and campaign managers were given what the primary polling numbers looked like. After seeing their candidate behind in the polls, students had to develop a new strategy that would guarantee success in the next round of polling. These three stages of the simulation brought students through what it meant to plan out a campaign, how to execute strategies, and how to react when thrown a curveball.
The goal of this simulation was for students to develop an understanding of all that goes into a campaign and why each and every team member is crucial to the success of the candidate. Students embraced the spirit of the campaign and saw how hard work towards a common goal can lead to success. Through the simulation, students felt encouraged to share their beliefs, question topics presented in class, and engage in thoughtful discussions.