Social Studies - 2019-20

GOVT.6b - Nomination and Election Process

The student will apply social science skills to understand local, state, and national elections by 

b) examining campaign funding and spending, including the impact of Supreme Court decisions, the nationalization of campaign financing, and the role of issue groups; 

Adopted: 2015


Big Themes/Concepts: Democracy, Politics, Political Systems

The strength of a democracy is equal to the strength of its citizens.

Political parties are designed to connect people to the government and preserve the sovereignty of citizens in a democracy.

How fair and effective is the electoral process?

In what ways should people participate in public affairs?

Does the two-party system help or harm democracy?


Candidates must appeal to an increasing number of independent voters to win elections. 

Campaigning for political office is expensive. Recent laws and Supreme Court decisions have attempted to influence campaign financing. 


Laws limit the amount individuals and groups may contribute to federal, state, and local candidates. 

The Federal Election Campaign Act 

 Provides for a system of financing based on three principles: 

o Public funding of presidential elections 

o Limitations on the amounts presidential and congressional candidates may receive from contributors 

o Public disclosure of the amounts candidates spend to get elected 

 Legalized the creation of Political Action Committees (PACs) 

Court cases impacting campaign financing 
 Citizens United v. FEC: Deals with regulation of campaign financing by organizations; overturns portions of McCainFeingold (Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) 
 Emily’s List v. FEC: Challenges several Federal Election Commission regulations that restrict how nonprofits may spend and raise money to advance their preferred policy positions and candidates 
 Free Speech v. FEC: Challenged the constitutionality of the Federal Election Commission’s regulations, policies, and practices determining when a communication is advocacy, and when it is solicitation 
In state and local campaigns, campaign contributions received by a candidate are unlimited but must be reported. 
Rising campaign costs require candidates to conduct extensive fundraising activities. 
Increasingly, fundraising is done online.


Updated: Jun 22, 2017