Past Questions: Elections

Some answered, some not. This is a compilation of all the past paper questions (that were accessible at the time - there may be more now). Good source for practice questions without having to wade through the Edexcel website (which isn't very good...).

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ShortAnswer (15)
Assess the extent to which incumbents have an advantage over
challengers in Congressional elections
House incumbent success rate: >90%
Senate incumbent success rate: >80%
2010 midterms: lowest House incumbent success rate for 30 years ­ 87%
Incomplete plan
Analyse the significance of Midterms
Midterm elections are the Congressional elections that occur midway
through each presidential term, electing the House of Representatives and one third
of the Senate. Their significance, of course, varies and is the subject of some
One point that suggests midterms are not particularly significant is that they
only elect to one branch of government ­ the legislature ­ and even then, twothirds
of Senators are not including in any given midterm. This limits the effect that these
elections may have ­ particularly in the Senate, as the balance of power can only
shift a limited amount. This is particularly true when the number of relatively safe
seats is taken into consideration. In the 2010 midterms, even though the Republican
Party certainly was victorious, they still only gained 6 Senators. This left the
Democrats with a 3seat majority remaining in the Senate. However, this was the
first time since 1930 that the House had changed hands without the Senate also
changing. This suggests that electing only a third of Senators at a time is not as
impotent as figures from 2010 make it appear.
Furthermore, the fact that the entire House is up for election in each midterm
is certainly of significance ­ as shown by the fact that the House did change from a
Democrat majority to Republican in 2010, creating divided government. This is
another point of significance for the midterms ­ the difference between united and
divided government can be enormous. United government can create an effective
protection for a President to enact his policies, while a divided government can
make for a `lame duck' of a President, as George W. Bush found after the 2006
midterm elections.
However, the level of success amongst incumbents ­ a huge majority win
reelection in both the House and Senate ­ suggests that even when most of
Congress is involved in the midterm elections there are unlikely to be any
particularly significant changes to the makeup of Congress. But this does not
necessarily hold true. In 2010, the highest number of freshman Senators joined the
Senate since 1981 ­ 18 Senators on their first term were elected, making for more
than 40 freshman Senators in total.
Overall, it is clear that the midterm elections are not insignificant. Despite
high levels of incumbency, there are some exceptions ­ and furthermore, the
change that midterms can have on the abilities and powers of a President is
enormous, and certainly can be highly significant. Midterm elections are significant.

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Analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the Electoral College
The Electoral College system used in the United States is distinctive, and
this system has its strong and weak points.
One strength of the Electoral College (EC) system is that it upholds the
influence of smaller, less populace states ­ such as Wyoming or Alaska. Because
these states receive more EC votes per person than larger states, they are kept
from being ignored.…read more

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Does public participation in the presidential nomination process advance or
hinder democracy?…read more


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