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CNN Student News Learning Activity: Caucuses and Primaries

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  • Students will learn about the process of nominating a presidential candidate
  • Students will learn the difference between caucuses and primaries
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(CNN Student News) -- Students will learn about the process of nominating a presidential candidate and the differences between caucuses and primaries.


Encourage students to learn about the presidential nomination process in their state. Refer them to online resources and have them conduct research to find answers to the following questions:

  1. Does your state hold primaries, caucuses or both? If your state has a primary, is it open or closed? Who can participate in your state's party contests?
  2. How do your state's presidential nomination procedures for Democratic and Republican parties compare?
  3. Do any other political parties hold primaries or caucuses in your state?
  4. When is your state's caucus or primary? What other states, if any, hold primaries or caucuses on the same day?
  5. What procedures should party members expect to take place during your state's caucus or primary?
  6. How are delegates in your state chosen for the national party conventions?
  7. Which presidential candidates, if any, have received endorsements from local or state media organizations or political figures?
  8. What is the history of your state's primary or caucus contests? How accurate have those contests been in predicting the presidential nominees?
  9. What percentage of the people in your state typically participate in a primary or caucus? How does that number compare with general election voter participation?
  10. Do you think that it is important to participate in your state's nomination contests? Why or why not?

Have students draw upon their research to create a voter guide for school and community members outlining the nomination processes in their state, including the candidates running for important elections, key endorsements and helpful Web sites.


Challenge your students to use original video, music, animation and other production elements to create their own "Talking Democracy" iReports that explain or demonstrate the concepts of caucuses and primaries. The videos should be three minutes or less in length and can be submitted here. The best videos may appear on CNN Student News!

Correlated Standards


9-12 Content Standards

I. What Are Civic Life, Politics, And Government?

1. Defining civic life, politics, and government

2. Necessity of politics and government

III. How Does The Government Established By The Constitution Embody The Purposes, Values, And Principles Of American Democracy?

14. Political parties, campaigns, and elections

V. What Are The Roles Of The Citizen In American Democracy?

14. The relationship between politics and the attainment of individual and public goals

15. The difference between political and social participation

16. Forms of political participation

17. Political leadership and careers in public service

18. Knowledge and participation

The National Standards for Civics and Government ( are published by the Center for Civic Education (


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