AP US Government : Voting and Participation

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Voting And Participation

In what election did a third-party last win at least one state?

Possible Answers:

The 1976 election

The 1964 election

The 1980 election

The 1992 election

The 1968 election

Correct answer:

The 1968 election

Explanation:

The Presidential election of 1968 was the last election in which a third-party candidate from outside the Democrat-Republican bloc was able to carry at least one state in an election. The independent candidate, George Wallace, won five Southern states by campaigning in favor of the continuation of segregation. The election is also considered an important realignment election, as much of the New Deal bloc of voters migrated towards Richard Nixon’s promise to “restore law and order.”

Example Question #2 : Voting And Participation

The primary issues of the 1928 election were __________

Possible Answers:

preventing the Great Depression from spiralling out of control and Prohibition.

World War Two and preventing the Great Depression from worsening.

maintaining a strong economy and Prohibition.

World War Two and anti-Catholic sentiment.

Prohibition and anti-Catholic sentiment.

Correct answer:

maintaining a strong economy and Prohibition.

Explanation:

The election of 1928 was won in a landslide by the Republican candidate, Herbert Hoover. He ran on the platform of opposition to prohibition and promising to maintain a strong economy. The booming 20s, as they are now often called, was a time of great economic growth and was firmly associated with the Republican Party; however, less than a year into Hoover’s Presidency the Great Depression broke out and he was voted out of office in the election of 1932 as emphatically as he was elected in 1928.

Example Question #2 : Voting And Participation

The general public directly elects

I) the Senate.

II) the House of Representatives. 

III) Supreme Court Justices.

IV) the President.

V) the Vice-President. 

Possible Answers:

I, II, III, IV, and V

I and II

I, II, III, and V

I, II, and V

IV and V

Correct answer:

I and II

Explanation:

The general public only “directly” elects representative to the Senate and to the House. Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the President and approved by Congress. The President and Vice-President are voted for by the general public, but in an election the public is actually voting for electors who, through the electoral college, vote for the President and Vice-President. They key word of the question is "directly."

Example Question #3 : Voting And Participation

The vast majority of congressional elections are won by __________.

Possible Answers:

Independents

Republicans

incumbents

newcomers

Democrats

Correct answer:

incumbents

Explanation:

Incumbents (politicians who already hold the position for which they are running) win the vast majority of congressional elections. In some election cycles, the figure has been as high as ninety-percent.

Example Question #5 : Voting And Participation

Which of these statements about the likelihood of various groups voting is not true?

Possible Answers:

Married people are more likely to vote than single people.

Younger people are more likely to vote than older people.

Wealthy people are more likely to vote than poor people.

Well-educated people are more likely to vote than those with no higher education.

Correct answer:

Younger people are more likely to vote than older people.

Explanation:

All of these statements are true except that younger people are more likely to vote than older people. Young people, those in their twenties in particular, are notoriously difficult to get to the polls whereas older people tend to turn out in overwhelming numbers.

Example Question #4 : Voting And Participation

A meeting of local party members in order to decide which issues to focus on and to select candidates for elections is called a __________.

Possible Answers:

secondary

caucus

primary

lobby

college

Correct answer:

caucus

Explanation:

A caucus is the name given to the meeting of local members of a political party to decide the platform and issues of that political party and to select candidates for election. Caucuses were more prominent in the early part of the twentieth century than they are today, but they are still part of the electoral process in places like Iowa.

Example Question #7 : Voting And Participation

Which Presidential election has had the highest voter turnout, by percentage of total eligible voters, in United States history?

Possible Answers:

2008

1964

1980

1876

1930

Correct answer:

1876

Explanation:

The Presidential election of 1876 had the highest percentage of the population turning out to vote in United States history, narrowly beating the pre-Civil War election of 1860. It was an election marked by a stark regional divide between the Republican North and the Democratic South (although New York voted Democratic). When there is stark regional differences voter turnout is generally higher, and during the pre-Civil War and immediate post-Civil War era of American politics, voter turnout was the highest it has ever been—around eighty percent.

Example Question #8 : Voting And Participation

Which of these is most likely to be the result of a dealignment election?

Possible Answers:

A divided government

The President is replaced after his first term

A dramatic decline of the percentage of the population who participates in the election

A rise in the number of votes for an independent candidate

A fall in the number of votes for an independent candidate

Correct answer:

A rise in the number of votes for an independent candidate

Explanation:

In a dealignment election the population generally rejects the two major parties and favors an independent candidate. This occurs occasionally in American history, but has shown no signs of happening in recent years, even when the two major political parties fall out of touch with the issues that concern the common man.

Example Question #5 : Voting And Participation

What is gerrymandering? 

Possible Answers:

A non-controversial process by which the states use reapportionment to change the number of electors each state has

None of the answers are correct

The politically-charged process by which the federal legislature uses redistricting to draw district lines in ways that favor the party in power

The politically-charged process by which the state legislatures use redistricting to draw district lines to favor the election of US Senators within the state

The politically-charged process by which state legislatures use redistricting to draw district lines in ways that favor the party in power.

Correct answer:

The politically-charged process by which state legislatures use redistricting to draw district lines in ways that favor the party in power.

Explanation:

Gerrymandering is often a difficult subject to tackle, and this question is not easy. That said, there are several hints that pave the way to knocking out many of the answers. For one, the federal legislature (Congress) does NOT redistrict the states. States are responsible for drawing their own district lines. The other easily determined answer is the one reading “. . .  to favor the election of US Senators within the state.” Remember that each state gets two US Senators (that distinction is important, because most states have STATE Senates as well), which are elected state-wide. Thus there is no such thing as redistricting for US Senators. Finally, states have nothing to do with reapportionment; reapportionment occurs after the conclusion of the Census which determines the number of people in each state, and thus the number of House members.

Now, the correct answer. Gerrymandering is the process by which state legislatures redistrict (that is redraw district lines) in ways that heavily favor the majority party. One of the ways, for example, is by taking a solid core of the opposing party and hacking off chunks of that district into the surrounding districts, thus diluting the voting power of the opposing party.

Lastly, remember that gerrymandering is named after Elbridge Gerry, the governor of Massachusetts who signed into law a highly partisan redistricting plan that heavily favored his party. One of the oddly-drawn districts vaguely resembled a salamander, leading a newspaper to name it the “Gerry-mander.” 

Example Question #10 : Voting And Participation

What is the difference between reapportionment and redistricting?

Possible Answers:

Reapportionment is named after Elbridge Gerry/redistricting is named after John Marshall

Reapportionment is the process by which House members are apportioned among the states according to population/redistricting is the process by which states redraw district lines

Reapportionment happens once every two censuses/redistricting rarely ever happens

Reapportionment is the process by which states redraw district lines/redistricting is the process by which House members are apportioned among the states according to population

None of the answers are correct

Correct answer:

Reapportionment is the process by which House members are apportioned among the states according to population/redistricting is the process by which states redraw district lines

Explanation:

This question is a little tricky. Students often struggle with the difference between redistricting and reapportionment, but the easiest way to keep them apart is to look at the words themselves: redistricting and reapportionment.

Redistricting is the often-controversial process by which state legislatures redraw the district lines within their states—not to be confused with gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a type of redistricting—a politically charged/motivated redistricting. Theoretically speaking, however, redistricting COULD be completely unpartisan, it’s just unlikely.

Reapportionment, on the other hand, is far less controversial. Essentially, it’s the process by which the number of US House members of each state are determined in the wake of every decennial census. Keep in mind that the current number of House members is capped at 435, so the “net” gain is always zero. Do you see why that is? Let’s use an example by way of answer. Take almost any state in the Southeast—most of them have quickly growing populations—say, Georgia. Imagine that after the most recent census, it was determined that Georgia’s population grew by 1 million, while California’s shrank by the same. Further assume that 1 million (in either direction) is enough to shuffle a House member around. Taking those assumptions, then, it is likely that CA would lose a House member and GA would gain one at the conclusion of the census. However, since the TOTAL number of House members is capped at 435, it’s a net gain of zero (GA + 1, CA -1 = 0).

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