The Whistle Stop Tour, The Electoral College, and Demographics

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
40 minutes
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will complete a set of analytical questions (on paper or electronically) while using primary and secondary map resources individually, pair-share, and then discuss as a class/group as a formative assessment or review tool over the Electoral College and demographics.
Rationale (why are you doing this?)

This is a quick activity to review and apply knowledge regarding the Electoral College, demographics, and aspects of 1940s U.S. History. This is meant to be incorporated into your existing lessons or work as a standalone. It is designed to be formative assessment when covering these topics or review of several concepts for your personal summative assessment and/or EOC testing in the state of Missouri.

Lesson Objectives - the student will

o an understanding of basic demographic information of the United States.
o map reading and Interpretation skills.
o mastery over the Electoral College.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Middle/High School Level
• NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies) 1- Culture
• NCSS (National Council for the Social Studies) 6- Power, Authority, and Conference

• Missouri 9-12.GV.4.PC.B
• Missouri 9-12.GV.4.G.A
• Missouri 9-12.GV.4.GS.C
• Missouri 9-12.GV.1.CC.B
• Missouri 9-12.GV.1.G.A
• Missouri 9-12.AH.1.G.A
• Missouri 9-12.AH.5.G.A
• Missouri 9-12.AH.5.PC.E

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed

Photo of map of Truman's 1948 Whistle Stop Tour

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

• While this activity is presented as a formative assessment or review activity, teachers may also simply use this as a discussion tool or incorporate this activity into a lecture or other materials as they see fit with their existing curriculum
. • Students will analyze the three maps presented after learning about the Electoral College and demographics. Then, they will answer the questions that follow. Recommended is a cooperative learning style where students work individually, pair-share, and then group-share/discuss. Teacher will review the correct answers with the students.
• This activity can be modified to be fully on paper or digital.
• Tips: Depending on your personal classroom resources, upload visuals to your online class platform, display via a digital projector, or print in color to be able to see the Electoral College Map correctly. You could create a front/back class set of the maps and then have the students write on the handout or complete the questions electronically.
• Tip: Questions could be written to focus more on party realignment or civil rights, depending on your topic of study

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

Answer Key: 20 points

  1. What large region of the country did Truman very clearly avoid on his 1948 campaign? What would prompt Truman to do this?

2 points- South and Civil Rights (Truman was for, the South was Against)


  1. Why would Truman avoid the states like Montana, the Dakotas, New Mexico, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont?  List two reasons.

2 points- 5 electoral votes or less.  Rural areas that tend to go Republican.


  1. What region did Truman seem to visit the most?  Why would that be?

2 points- Ohio River Valley/Great Lakes and Swing States- could go Democratic or Republican.


  1. Why do some states seem to vote differently in the 1940s than today?

1 point- Party realignment


  1. Which states would be most valuable for Truman to target and why?

2 points- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania- the most electoral votes


  1. In a close election, like in 1948, what would be a concern with the electoral college?  List 2 out of 3 possible flaws.

2 points-

Any election without a majority could be decided by the House of Representatives.

Electors could change their vote.

The winner of the popular vote could not be guaranteed the Presidency.


  1. Pick one state that has changed voting allegiance from 1948 to today and explain why

2 points- Answers will vary.  Example: Any southern state due to civil rights.  Party Realignment with Northeastern states and Texas.


  1. Pick one state that has become more important since 1948 for elections and explain why.

2 points- Answers will vary.  Example: Florida- more population- swing state- more voters. 


  1. Why do Alaska and Hawaii not have any electoral votes in the 1940s?

1 point- They are not states yet.


  1. Why does the American Southwest have more votes today?

1 point- More population due to Air Conditioning 


  1. Based on history, what demographic groups are most critical for Truman to win?

2 points- Urban inner cities and people of color


Document set and activity

Document set and activity