Presidential Elections: Mississippi's Voting History Lesson Plan

Patsy Bradley


Historically, how do the voters of Mississippi vote in presidential elections?


Mississippi Studies Framework Competencies:

  1. Explain how politics have influenced the development of Mississippi.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to use graphic tools.
  3. Explain how civic responsibilities are important to Mississippians as citizens of the United States.


Grades 7 through 12.


  • Teacher Notes (taken from the Mississippi History Now article)
  • Whiteboard and marker
  • Student copies of the election percentage results
  • Student notebooks and writing utensils
  • Plain white paper
  • Rulers
  • Colored Pencils




Bell Opener: As the students enter the room they should respond to the following questions from the board: (If students are not familiar with openers, they should be instructed to try their best to answer the questions. Tell them this is NOT a pop test.)

  1. How often do we elect a president in the United States?
  2. What are the two major political parties in the United States?
  3. Which party usually wins in Mississippi?
  4. When is our next presidential election?

If the presidential election is approaching soon, the following questions can be added as well:

  1. Who are the two leading candidates?
  2. Name the party for each.
  3. Who do you think will carry the state of Mississippi?

Open the lesson: Presidential election years are important years in the United States and in Mississippi. Can anyone tell me what important event takes place every four years on the first Tuesday in November? (wait time) This is when we elect a new president. Although you will not be voting if you are under 18, you should take an interest in the electoral events and in the winner as this person will be elected for a four-year term. Also, U. S. presidents are eligible for a second term. Let’s look at how Mississippi has voted for presidents in the past. [If an election is soon, add] Then let's see if you can predict who will win the next presidential election.


  1. Students should have notebook and paper ready for notes.
  2. Teacher should hand out copies of percentages to students.
  3. Teacher should copy the election results charts on the board.
  4. The teacher will review the election results from Mississippi in the years 1948-2004 calling attention to the percentage difference in each election. As the teacher reviews each year, attention should be called to the reasons behind the voters profile in relationship to Mississippi and United States history. *Helpful Hint: You should have a cover sheet so that only the year you are lecturing on, or previous years, are exposed. 
  5. After the students have an understanding of how Mississippi voted in previous elections, they should work independently to create a graph showing voter percentages from 1948 to 2004. As the students begin work, the teacher should demonstrate the following procedure
    • Students should place a title on their paper.
    • Students should choose three colors -- one for Democratic Party, one for Republican Party, and one for “Other.”
    • Students should make a key at the bottom of the paper showing the colors used for each political party.
    • Students should draw a vertical line to designate the years.
    • Mark the line off in increments of 5, ranging from 0 to 90.
    • Students shall then connect the horizontal line to form a right triangle.
    • Mark the horizontal line off in 15 equal sections.
    • Label each section with the year of the presidential election.
    • Rounding to the nearest whole number and using the designated colors, the students should make a bar graph indicating the percentages gained by each party per election year.
    • In the years with third-party candidates, the student should write in the candidate or party.


  • Did you see a shift in the winning party in Mississippi?
  • From what we have learned, was the shift in the way Mississippians voted, or was there a shift in the party?
  • What year was there the largest margin between parties?
  • What year was there the least margin?
  • What can this graph tell us about third parties in the United States?
  • [If applicable] Who can tell me the two leading candidates for president this year?
  • [If applicable] What party is each from?
  • [If applicable] Judging from the bar graph you made, predict who will win in November and place it on the bottom of your graph. Give a reason for your prediction. Remember to consider changes in voting profile. We will revisit your graphs after the elections results are final to see if you were right.


Teacher should check for the following:

  1. Title appropriate for information provided on graph.
  2. Key for information.
  3. Labeling of vertical and horizontal lines.
  4. Correct graphing of appropriate party percentages.
  5. Neatness.


Students could research and find the name of the candidates for each election. The candidates names should be written in the bar graph. Also, the student could designate the winner for each election and draw a conclusion as to how many times the Mississippi winner has become president.