Policy & Platforms

Lesson Plans

Participate in a mock presidential debate after comparing and contrasting the 2012 platforms for the Republican and Democratic Parties (with options for also examining the Green and Libertarian Parties).

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain the reasons for party platforms and the role they play in campaigns.
  • Identify and categorize key issues addressed in the platforms for different political parties.
  • Compare and contrast the platforms of different political parties.
  • Participate in a mock presidential debate

Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies this Lesson Addresses

  • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
  • Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.


Part One: Understanding the Function of Party Platforms

  • Students read and view information provided in the Policy and Platforms Platforms portion of the website

Part Two: Comparing and Contrasting 2012 Party Platforms

  • Students read the 2012 platforms for Republican and Democratic Parties (see Resources section below for Web links), with option of also reading the platforms for the Green and Libertarian Parties.  [TEACHER NOTE: Republican and Democratic Parties do not yet have their 2012 platforms approved, but these platforms will be posted following their approval at the respective conventions. The sites for Green Party and Libertarian Party do include their 2012 platforms.] Use the graphic organizer provided to identify the key issues for each party. The graphic organizer also asks students determine whether an issue is best categorized as “social,” “economic,” or “foreign policy.”
  • Students next compare and contrast the platforms for the different political parties using the graphic organizer provided.

Part Three: Preparing for and Participating in Mock Presidential Debate

  • Break students up into the following groups: Moderators; Republican Party; Democratic Party; Libertarian Party (optional); Green Party (optional).
  • The students acting as moderators design questions for each presidential candidate. The questions should be drawn specifically from the issues raised in the respective party platforms. Questions also should highlight differences between the party platforms to allow candidates to refer to the other party’s platform.
  • The students acting as political parties will choose one person from their group to participate as the presidential candidate in the mock debate. Members in the group will help prepare the candidate for the debate by anticipating the questions that will be asked and how best to respond to them based on their party’s platform.
  • During the mock debate, the students not in the roles of moderators or presidential candidates assume the role of news reporters. During the debate they will take notes. After the debate they will provide a written or verbal critique of each candidate’s performance in the debate with an emphasis on adherence to the party platform.

Option for Historical Connection:

  • Students can read the party platforms from earlier elections dating back to the nineteenth century and hold a mock debate from an earlier presidential election, or track changes in issues and strategies taken by political parties over time.



  • Graphic Organizer: Comparing and Contrasting Party Platforms
  • Performance in Mock Debate, or Critique of Debate

Common Core standards:
English Language Arts Standards » History/Social Studies » Grades 9-10