United States Congress Assignment

Members of the 114th Congress pose in the House of Representatives chamber
Official photo of the 114th United States Congress, 17 July 2013 by Speaker.gov (Public Domain).
This assignment asks you to think about and consider why a candidate for the House of Representatives or the Senate wins or loses, using readings and resources for this module as the basis for an explanation and analysis. Your report should be approx. 6-7 pages in length and include the information and data, as directed below.

Media in the U.S. cover presidential elections extensively and, one could add, exhaustively, while coverage of midterm elections varies by comparison. In the 2020 campaign, there were 435 elections for the House and 35 for the Senate – 470 seats in the Congress in total. While the number of House and Senate races is quite large, the actual number of truly competitive races, sometimes referred to as “battleground races,” is usually modest. Estimation of competitive races varies slightly based on the source; for our purposes, we will use Ballotpedia’s estimate of battleground races in the 2020 election.

According to Ballotpedia, in 2020 there were 16 battleground races for the Senate and 41 for the House – i.e. 45.7% of Senate and only 9.4% of House elections were highly competitive. Readings for this module identify a number of factors contributing to competitive versus “safe” seats, especially in the House.

Using readings and resources for this module and the 2020 election data and information detailed below, your report will analyze and explain the winners and losers in House and Senate battleground races. The authors of several selections in our readings suggest that partisan polarization is a major determinant factor in recent congressional elections. However, our readings also make a strong case that other factors can and do affect who wins and who loses in congressional elections.

Take a position on the winners and losers in your report. Be sure to consider at least 2-3 factors in addition to partisan polarization in explaining the outcomes of specific battleground races, as indicated below. Your report has two parts: 1) an examination and analysis of specified elections and 2) summary information about the elections. You may present the information that addresses the data and questions below in a narrative discussion about each election, create a table to provide specific details, or simply incorporate details about each of the races in your report.

Use only the specified online resources to gather information about winners and losers in specific races and about your representative, as well. However, information and data from Congress.gov about incumbents and Census Bureau data about voting may also be used.

Use data that you gather from Ballotpedia and Open Secrets only about the winner and loser in two of the following battleground races (one from the House and one from the Senate):

House race in California’s 21st district
House race in Iowa’s 1st district
House race in Texas’s 21st district
Senate race in Georgia (either one)
Senate race in Maine
Senate race in Colorado

In addition to profiling the winners and losers, you must include the following:
For House battleground races, characteristics of the legislative district, including partisanship, changes in demographics, and related information.
The “war chest” for each winner and loser – how much money did the candidates collect and spend leading up to the election?
What support, if any, did the incumbent receive from House or Senate campaign committees?

Identify financial contributions to battleground candidates from businesses and other organized interests. List the name and total contribution of one contributor from each of the following categories of contributors:
an industry/business or trade group
an advocacy/organized interest group

Be sure to answer the following questions about contributors:
Did the industry/business, trade group, and organized interest group contribute to both candidates?
Did the incumbent serve on a committee, subcommittee, or participate in a caucus in the House or Senate related to the above interests?

Examine information about voter participation for the battleground races and compare the voter turnout to national voter participation rates in 2020, including a) the number of registered voters and the percentage of registered voters who voted b) the number of eligible voters (citizens over 18 years of age) and c) the percentage of the eligible population that voted. At the end of your analysis of voter participation, therefore, your report will show results for one House battleground race and one Senate battleground races in comparison to national voter participation rates in the 2020 elections.

Sample Answer (APA Format)

United States Congress Election


CRJ 202

Dr. Salva



In the United States Congress, members of Congress are responsible for representing the people who live in their respective districts by conducting hearings, developing legislation, and voting on proposed laws. Before the President can sign any bills into law, they must first receive approval from both houses of Congress. Two senators are elected to represent state’s interests in the United States Senate from each of the 50 states.  On the other hand, the number of people living in state determines how many representatives it gets in the House of Representatives. 
For instance, Vermont and Delaware, both of which are relatively small states, each have one representative, while California, which is much larger state, has 53 representatives.

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