THE OFFICIAL CONTENT GUIDE
Use one or more of our vetted, researched facts to create your content.
Theme 1: Because of winner-take-all, presidential elections have become battles for a handful of swing states, and the candidates/elected presidents focus on swing-state voters almost exclusively.
- 11 of the 13 smallest states (those with 3-4 electoral votes) received none of the 399 general-election campaign events in 2016. (Source: National Popular Vote)
- In the run-up to the 2016 election, 27 states received zero visits from presidential candidates. This includes almost all of rural America. (Source: Time)
- In 2016, 99% of ad dollars for the presidential election went to just 14 battleground states. (Source: Nonprofit VOTE)
- In 2016, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania received 57% of presidential campaign visits and 71% of the ad spending for president. (Source: Nonprofit VOTE)
- Between 1996 and 2008, swing states received approximately 7.5% more federal grants than safe states and about 5.7% more federal grant dollars. (Source: FairVote)
- Swing states received about 9% more federal grants and 7% more federal grant dollars in the two years prior to a presidential election. (Source: FairVote)
Theme 2: Winner-take-all allows presidential candidates who lost in the national popular vote to win the election.
- Two of the last three presidents took office after losing the national popular vote. (Source: The American Presidency Project)
- A candidate could technically win the presidency with only 23% of the popular vote. (Source: NPR)
- Over 30% of presidential elections in the next century could involve the winner of the electoral college losing the popular vote. (Source: Bakhavachalam and Fuentes)
Money in Politics
Theme 3: Candidates need to raise a lot of money to win races. They raise most of the money from the rich and special interest, and focus exclusively on their needs.
- In 2012, each winning senator raised on average over $14,000 each day of the election cycle. (Source: Maplight)
- Party leadership calls on members of Congress to spend four to five hours a day fundraising and only three to four hours doing the work they were elected to do. (Source: Huffington Post)
- In the 2016 election, less than 1 percent of American adults provided two-thirds of the money going to all federal candidates, political action committees (PACs), and parties. (Source: Open Secrets)
- For House races, small donations (those under $200) made up 10 percent or less of overall funds each election cycle from 2003 to 2014. (Source: Campaign Finance Institute)
- The biggest spenders in politics are overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and male. (Source: Demos)
Theme 4: Corporations spend enormous amounts on lobbying, drowning out the voices of union and public-interest groups and assert outsize influence in the legislative process.
- The number of firms with registered lobbyists in Washington increased fourteen-fold, from 175 in 1971 to 2,445 in 1982. (Source: The Business of America Is Lobbying)
- Annual inflation-adjusted corporate spending on lobbyists almost doubled, to more than $2 billion, between 1998 and 2010. (Source: The Business of America Is Lobbying)
- In 2012, about half of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists. In the early 1970s, this number was 3 percent. (Source: Dollarocracy)
Theme 5: Voter suppression efforts are politically motivated, and played a role in determining the 2016 elections.
- Paul Weyrich, the founder of ALEC, an organization that has peddled voter suppression laws, has expressed anti-democratic views: “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now . . . our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” (Source: Right Wing Watch)
- A 2006 Justice Department study found a voter-fraud rate of 0.00000013 percent, making the incidence of voter fraud less frequent than humans being struck by lightning. (Source: The Brennan Center)
- In the swing state of Wisconsin, Donald Trump won by twenty-three thousand votes. A federal court found that there were three hundred thousand registered voters that lacked required voter IDs. (Source: The Nation)
Theme 6: Voter suppression takes the form of stringent voter ID provisions or lack of voting access, suppressing tens of millions of votes and especially affecting minority voters.
- Thirty-four states have some form of voter ID provision. More than twenty-one million citizens lack proper photo identification. (Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, The Brennan Center)
- Getting the correct ID to vote can be difficult, if not impossible. In Mississippi, a birth certificate is required to get a photo ID. But you have to have a photo ID to get a copy of a birth certificate. (Source: Salon)
- ID laws disproportionately hurt people of color. A 2016 study showed “Latinos are 10 percent less likely to turnout in states with strict ID laws” than in those states without. (Source: The Journal of Politics)
- After the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, states across the country closed polling locations. In 2016, there were 868 fewer polling places in states like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina compared to previous elections, which likely impacted hundreds of thousands of voters. (Source: The Leadership Conference)
- In 2016 approximately 2.5 percent of the voting-age population could not vote because of a felony conviction, including those who had already served their time. Florida has one of the strictest felon disenfranchisement laws, one that prevents over 1.6 million people from voting—that’s three thousand times the vote margin that decided the 2000 election in the state. (Source: The Sentencing Project)
Theme 7: Because of gerrymandering, a party could get a minority share of popular vote, yet win a majority of seats.
- In 2012, Democrats won only 5 of the 18 congressional seats in Pennsylvania even though they received over 50 percent of the votes, or over eighty three thousand more votes than their Republican opponents. (Source: U.S. House of Representatives)
- In 2012, Republican won 11 of 14 contested congressional seats (or 79 percent of the seats) in Ohio even though they received only 51 percent of the votes in those races. (Source: U.S. House of Representatives)
- In 2012, Democrats won over 50 percent of votes in House races in four states—Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—but still lost the majority of seats. (Source: U.S. House of Representatives)
- In Maryland, Democrats consistently won 7 out of 8 congressional seats (or 89 percent of the seats) since 2012, even though they received only around 60 percent of the votes. (Source: U.S. House of Representatives)
- For state-level races, gerrymandering is often worse. In Ohio, more people voted for Democrats in state House races, but Republicans won sixty of ninety-nine state House seats. (Source: Ratf**cked)
- Because of gerrymandering, Democrats “would likely have to win the national popular vote by nearly 11 points” to win control of the House in 2018. (Source: Brennan Center for Justice)
Theme 8: In order to maximize their chances of winning elections, political parties choose voters they want to include in their districts and that has resulted in really weirdly shaped district maps.
AN EQUAL CITIZENS PROJECT