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Presidential Elections

February 09, 2000

A day before the presidential election of 1948, a Gallup poll predicted that Thomas E. Dewey would be elected by a large margin. And yet when the final votes were tallied, Harry S. Truman became the 33rd U.S. president in part through the success of his folksy, whistle-stop campaign. Become a more knowledgeable voter by learning about the process of presidential elections through the direct links on The Times' Launch Point Web site:

Level 1

Elections: Learn how U.S. presidents are elected, beginning with prospective candidates obtaining thousands of signatures. Find out how primaries help narrow the field and how political parties finally choose their nominees at conventions.

Scholastic News Zone: Election 2000: Who are the candidates for this year's presidential election, and what are the main campaign issues? Find out at this site, which posts current election news and has forums for discussing the issues as well as resources on the election process.

Presidents of the United States: Learn about past presidential campaigns by viewing election results and documents from each presidency and by reading about notable events during each presidential term.

Level 2

Project Vote Smart: Research presidential candidates for the 2000 election through this collection of resources, which includes biographies, data on campaign finances, voting records and stated positions on campaign issues.

Statistics: How Random is Random? At this interactive Web site, find out how opinion polls influence elections. Learn how polls may or may not affect who wins by following a fictitious election campaign.

Politics and Political Campaigns: This student project discusses the history of politics and elections from the time of George Washington to Bill Clinton and features many audio and video clips of the presidents.

Level 3

PBS: The American President: Explore the presidential election process through the viewpoints of campaign staffers, volunteers, political cartoonists and others through this collection of insightful essays and interviews. This site features extensive presidential history resources as well as an online game in which you guide a candidate through the primaries, the nominating convention and the general election.

CNN: Election 2000: Keep up to date on the 2000 election through news articles and commentaries. View speeches and campaign commercials from some of the candidates and learn about the history of primaries through a multimedia feature.

Electoral College Calculator: The president and vice president are not elected by popular vote but by the Electoral College. Find out how the Electoral College operates and try this online calculator to experiment with how many votes a candidate needs from each of the 50 states to win.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Stacy Valdez-Briggs, Abby Schiffman, Taide Tobias and Anna Manring.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

How many Electoral College votes does a candidate need to become president?

Clue: See Electoral College Calculator

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 100 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: The four steps useful in writing a biography are questioning, learning, synthesis and story-telling.

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