Government and Citizenship class forecasts 2020 elections outcomes


Nikolas Liepins

Just a day before Election Day, students in Shulow’s Government and Citizenship history elective forecast the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

On Nov 2, the 15 students in US History teacher, Aaron Shulow’s Government and Citizenship class took their seats at the forecasting table for the 2020 presidential election. After eight weeks of tracking select elections across the nation, students made their calls for how ballots will be cast on Election Day in both the presidential and senate elections.

Students were assigned a set of states for which they have been tracking the presidential, senate, and select house and gubernatorial elections since the beginning of the school year. From nailbiters like Florida and Pennsylvania to surprise swing states like Minnesota and predictable outcomes in states like New Jersey, discussion of elections in all 50 states has frequented Room 5310. Every Monday, students have updated the Period 4 class on the status of their select races, focusing on how the involved candidates have performed in the polls, with context from articles and current events.

Senior Harry Jones was assigned Nevada, Nebraska, and New Hampshire. His favorite part of this experience was “was finding out that Nebraska is not a winner takes all state,” he said.

Another student, sophomore Julia Colbert, shared that the history elective “gave me a better understanding of how the election works, and this [election tracking] kind of summed it all together.”

This is the third year that Shulow has taught the Government and Citizenship elective. The class has tracked elections for each of those years, though last year’s students tracked primaries and caucuses. According to Shulow, the classes’ predictions have been “well informed and insightful.”

“I think it is important for people to be aware of how their electoral system works,” Shulow said, “so they can change it if it’s not consistent with how they would expect an ostensible representative democracy to function.” Shulow also shared that he assigns states and candidates to students because it “gives them a stake in the outcome that often translates to a curiosity about how and why a particular outcome happened.”

Elections affect the lives of millions of Americans, so it’s important for students to understand where the outcomes came from and how they could change our nation’s policy landscape. Though about half of his class can’t vote this election, Shulow noted his vision for the course: “I can appreciate the many reasons why someone might be disengaged from government, but my goal is for students to understand how and why the government works so they can then change what they think doesn’t work and preserve what does.”