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Voting &
Elections Assignment

This spring, the Republican and
Democratic parties will choose nominees to represent their parties in the
November election. If the real election isn’t until November, why are the party
primaries so important?

Because most elections are held in
districts or precincts, which are drawn by politicians, most of them are
predetermined to be represented by one of the two parties. In an overwhelmingly
Democratic district, the real choice is made by voters in the Democratic

Few districts are party-competitive
– meaning there are only a few districts that can be realistically won by
either a Republican or a Democrat. One such district is Texas House of
Representatives District 134.

Candidates for the Republican
nomination include incumbent Representative Sarah Davis and challenger David Louis Palmer.

Assignment Instructions:

You’re going to become a phantom campaign manager. Choose one of these four candidates and
design a campaign to win the election.
this assignment as a 4 – 5 page memorandum
(but with cited sources) from
you, the campaign manager, to your candidate.
Outline the race for them,
how much money you think they need to raise, how you will raise it for them,
what you propose to spend it on, what issues they should talk about, how you
want to deliver their message, etc.

Note: This assignment
is a memorandum(with
cited sources)
not an essay.

Some things to keep in mind and consider in your writing:

The current State Representative,
Sarah Davis, is seeking reelection.

Sarah Davis is considered a
moderate, not a conservative. She was the only Republican to vote against last
session’s package of abortion restrictions. That could help or hurt, depending on the voter you’re trying to

Your candidate is running in a
specific district (see the map in the attachment). Any money you spend delivering your
message to people who don’t live inside the orange line is wasted money. How do
you target the right voters?

Some people who live in the district
can’t vote because they’re under 18 years old, or they’re not U.S. citizens.

Not all voters are Republicans, and
even those who consider themselves Republicans don’t vote in primary elections.
How do you identify your likely voters?

What sorts of people live in your
candidate’s district? What motivates them?

What is your candidate’s background
and experience? What will be his or her key issues?

How much money will you need? How
will you raise it? How will you spend it?

This can be a challenging
assignment, but it can also be a lot of fun. Keep in mind that campaigning is
more art than science and that there are few absolutely right or wrong answers.
If I asked five campaign professionals to do this assignment for the same
candidate, I would probably get five totally different campaign strategies (and
they’d charge me a lot of money).

Submit in Word. Cite your sources.


What’s a memorandum? Look here:

The Harris County Republican Party has email
addresses and links to all the candidate websites:

Here’s the Texas Tribune’s page on House District

The “District Analysis” section of Rep. Davis’ website has a lot
of useful information for candidates:

Liberal blogger Charles Kuffner spends a lot of
time covering local elections, including posts of interviews with candidates:

Another local blog, Big Jolly Politics, has a lot
on local elections:

Local political consultant Marc Campos has another
perspective on local politics:

U of H Professor Richard Murray’s blog has less
gossip, more political analysis:

Campaigns and Elections Magazine editor Ron Faucheaux has an
article called “Writing your campaign plan: the seven components for
winning an election”:

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