Election Crash Course: The history, science and psychology of U.S. Elections

  • 5 Most Offensive Campaign Ads
  • Do men and women vote differently?
  • 10 Successful Third-party Candidates
  • Caucus vs. Primary
To the polls!
5 Historic Presidential Campaign Collapses

All they had to do was sit back and count the votes. They thought they had the presidential election in the bag -- until they didn't. Here's our list of some of the biggest collapses in presidential campaign history.

Top 10 Pioneering Female Politicians

When it comes to politics, men tend to dominate, with women accounting for only about 10 percent of government leaders internationally. Which female politicians have trail-blazed a path to close that gender gap?

How Super PACs Work

Sarah Palin has one, and comedian Stephen Colbert does too. But what exactly is a Super PAC, and how will they affect future elections?

How the U.S. Vice President Works

The vice presidency was originally a consolation prize given to the runner-up in the national election. More than two centuries later, the role of vice president is little more respected among the public than it was in the beginning.

How Lobbying Works

Lobbying has a long and storied history in American politics, but does it also deserve the bad rap it's taken for so long?

Are women better politicians?

Women have the right stuff to excel in politics, but they still make up well under 20 percent of the U.S. Senate and House. Could this minority status actually be making them better politicians?

What are superdelegates?

Before the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, relatively few people had heard of superdelegates. What role did these powerful politicians play in the Democratic nomination? And what makes a superdelegate so super anyway?

How the U.S. President Works

When the framers of the Constitution considered an executive branch, they were still stinging from the despotic rule of King George III. Ultimately, the framers saw the need for a single person to lead. Enter the president of the United States.

How Political Attack Ads Work

The use of political attack ads -- those that focus on rivals' shortfalls rather than preferred candidates' achievements -- has shot up in recent years. These negative ads may leave a bad taste in voters' mouths, but are they effective?

5 Strangest Political Parties

Whenever a presidential election rolls around, third parties often have a moment in the limelight. From Internet-privacy-loving Pirates to Ayn Rand-toting Objectivists, what are some of the most unusual third parties out there?

How Political Conventions Work

In an election year, political conventions take over the U.S. media for days, filling TVs, radios and newspapers with political-party platforms and propaganda. But what real purpose do the conventions serve?

How Political Recalls Work

If the news is any indication, Americans have officially caught recall fever. Why (and how) are everyday voters taking the extraordinary step of recalling officials they've already elected to their posts?

5 Great Presidential Debate Moments

Presidential debates aren't really known for their fireworks, but these off-the-cuff moments definitely made sparks fly.

How Voter Suppression Works

Voter suppression has become a hot topic during the 2012 election season, but the practice has a frighteningly long and storied history in the U.S. What is it and how can it affect elections?

How the Cabinet Works

We always hear about major government figures like the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, but who are these people, and how do they help the president? Meet the ladies and gentlemen of the Cabinet.

How Political Primaries Work

Presidential primaries let the voters choose who they want to represent their political party for president. But not everyone is happy with the process. What are the problems, and can they be fixed?

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10 Political Scandals

Politicians have given the world plenty to talk about over the years. On this list of 10 political scandals, from Watergate to the Profumo Affair, which had the most extreme consequences?


The Ultimate Elections Quiz


Presidential candidates spend millions of dollars on ads, trade inflammatory jabs on live television and crisscross the country many times over on their quest for votes. But beyond pulling a lever, punching a card or pressing a button, do you really know how the country's electoral system works?

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