Lesson Plan: Political Party Strategies in the 2018 Midterm Elections

Preview of the 2018 Midterm Elections

Charlie Cook from the Cook Political Report discusses the political landscape, messaging for each party, and possibility that Republicans will lose the House and the Senate in the 2018 midterm election.


This lesson focuses on the 2018 midterm elections with an emphasis on the strategies, messaging and advertisements that candidates and political parties are using to persuade voters. Through examples of campaign advertisements from the 2018 midterm elections, students will evaluate the impact that national and state politics and issues have on elections for state and district offices. Students will also analyze the impact of party affiliation and party leadership on specific races.



    To begin class, provide an overview of the 2018 midterm elections and party messaging by viewing each of the following video clips and discussing the questions associated with them.

  • VIDEO CLIP: A Preview of the 2018 Midterm Elections (2:08)

    • Describe the political landscape of the 2018 midterm elections.
    • Why does Mr. Cook say that the 2018 midterm elections are so important?
    • What issues and topics do you think will be the focus of the 2018 midterm election?
  • VIDEO CLIP: Republican Messaging and Fundraising for the 2018 Midterm Elections (3:39)

    • Describe the Republican messaging that Rep. Emmer (R-MN) discusses.
    • Based on this, make a list of issues and topics that Republicans should focus on to retain control over Congress.
  • VIDEO CLIP: Democratic Messaging for the 2018 Midterm Elections (5:14)

    • Describe the Democratic messaging that Rep. Cicilline (D-RI) discusses.
    • Based on this, make a list of issues and topics that Democrats should focus on to take control over Congress.

    Using a jigsaw setup, divide the class into groups and assign each group one of the 2018 midterm campaign advertisements listed below. For the advertisements, have the groups provide the following information using the 2018 Midterm Advertisement Handout. Students will share their information with the class and the class will complete the handout.

    • Candidate/group sponsoring the ad
    • Political party associated with the ad
    • Issues/topics/people mentioned in the ad
    • Summary of the message(s)

    Using the information from the video clips and the handout, have the students write explanations of how each of the following factors impact messaging and strategy for the 2018 midterm elections.

    • Party affiliation and party leadership
    • District and State Issues
    • National Issues

    As an exit slip, have the students answer the following question before leaving.

    • To what extent are midterm elections for state and district offices impacted by national politics and national political parties?

    Be a Campaign Strategist- Choose a candidate running for election in your state or Congressional district and research that candidate. Develop a campaign strategy for this candidate. Include the following:

    • Summary of the candidate's background, party and opponents
    • List of issues he/she supports from the candidate's campaign website
    • An explanation of which issues the candidate should emphasis and which issues the candidate should not emphasis in your state or district
    • An advertisement that would encourage citizens in your state or district to vote for the candidate (television ad, social media ad, billboard, yard sign with slogan, etc.)

    Research a Congressional District Race- Choose a congressional race and research the candidates and the electoral history of the district or state. Based on how the district or state voted in past elections and current polling data, make a prediction on who you think will win in the 2018 election. Be prepared to explain your prediction. Election results and polling data can be found on the websites listed below and through other online resources:

  • Additional Prompts-

    • How can party affiliation and party leadership be both beneficial and detrimental to some candidates?
    • How much should national political parties be involved in district elections?
    • In your opinion, which political party seems to have the clearest message in the 2018 midterm elections.

Additional Resources


  • Caucus
  • Constituents
  • Democrat
  • Economic Anxiety
  • Infrastructure
  • Messaging
  • Midterm
  • Political Party
  • Polling
  • Referendum
  • Republican
  • Tax Cut
  • Unemployment Rate


Campaigns & ElectionsPolitical Parties


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