Political Elections

The Elections channel includes information on topics related to elections, voting or running for political office. Learn more about presidential debates, the electoral college or the voting system.


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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 Great Presidential Debate Moments

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

Top 10 Most Successful Third-party Presidential Candidates

Historically in the United States, third parties have successfully steered political discourse and lawmaking, yet largely haven't stuck around long enough to get their own candidates into office. Which have had the best shot?

Why do people vote?

The probability of a single vote actually making a difference in a presidential election is one in 60 million. With those kinds of odds, what keeps people going out to the polls?

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?

Do men and women vote differently?

For years, pollsters and pundits have puzzled over how U.S. adults decide to cast their votes. Party affiliations and personal stances on electoral issues have a lot to do with it, of course, but does gender play a role, too?

5 Most Offensive Campaign Ads Ever Produced

Campaign ads are designed to grab voters' attention, but what if an ad attracts eyeballs for all the wrong reasons? Here are five of the most offensive campaign ads ever produced.

5 Most Effective Campaign Ads

Do you remember boring campaign ads? Of course not. That's why campaigns spend millions of dollars to send messages to voters. Here are five ads that worked -- and that's why we remember them.

10 Reasons Why Voting Systems Are Not Created Equal

There may be no perfect way to cast a ballot. Human error, hanging chads, and hackable software -- it seems every voting system has some flaw.

How Voter Suppression Works

Voter suppression has become a hot topic during the 2016 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 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?

What's the Difference Between a Caucus and a Primary?

The presidential election season is chock-full of straw polls, caucuses and primaries to determine the nominees for each party, but what's the difference between these things? Do they matter?

How Political Polling Works

News broadcasts and Web sites are filled with polls detailing public opinion on everything from the president's job performance to stem cell research. But who selects the people who respond? And what do the numbers mean?

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 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.

What Are Superdelegates?

What role did these powerful politicians play in the Democratic nomination? And what makes a superdelegate so super anyway?

How Lame Is a Lame-duck President?

Once a president reaches the end of a second term, everyone begins looking for his or her successor. How much influence do so-called lame ducks wield?

How E-voting Works

Would you be more willing to vote if you could sidestep the nuisances of finding the correct polling location and standing in line for hours increase voter participation? E-voting could make it possible.

How can someone tamper with an electronic voting machine?

Instead of "Democrat or Republican," the more pressing question has become "accurate count or complete debacle?" With e-voting, the entire setup is electronic, not just the actual casting of the vote.

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 do caucuses work?

A caucus, like a primary, is held to determine the party's nomination for president. Those candidates face their first big test during the Iowa caucuses. Why is it such an unusual piece of the election process?

How the U.S. Draft Works

T­he idea of a military draft, also called conscription, has been around in one form or another since ancient times. Find out what would happen if the U.S. military needed more troops.

How the Electoral College Works

The Electoral College is not an Ivy League school. Rather, it's a process for selecting the next U.S. president that actually carries more weight than the popular vote. Why is it there and should it be continued?

Why Does the U.S. Have an Electoral College?

In the U.S. presidential election system, the Electoral College plays an extremely important role in determining who the next president will be. Learn about the Electoral College system in this article.