CT-N Civics Toolbox Logo (small) CT-N Toolbox: Campaign Finance
A Short Simulation Game

Developed by: Victor W. Geraci, Ph. D.
Candidate (generic graphic)

Click here for the Word Document version of this page.

Objective: Gather as large of campaign fund war chest as possible and use the money for advertising plans that will provide the maximum exposure to the state’s voters. Win the largest amount of votes and thus win the election… The theme of the game revolves around the dilemma that candidates who spend more on advising and consultants have a higher voter recognition rate and thus usually get more votes.

Candidates: Your goal is to convince individual voters, voting blocks, and PACs to write you a check for the maximum amount that they have to spend. Once they give you their check you may spend it in the following categories…

  • Television Commercials --- Cost $2,500 to produce, $400 per commercial
  • Radio Commercials --- Cost $500 to produce, $300 per commercial
  • Newspaper Advertising --- $2,500 per ˝ page
  • Billboard Advertising --- $5,000 per billboard
  • Flyers/bumper stickers --- $4,000 per thousand items
  • Yard Signs --- $2,500 per thousand

Candidate Roles word | pdf

Voters: You goal is to support the candidate for United States Senate that will best represent your ideas. Your support will be a check written to the candidate.

Voter Roles word | pdf


  • Introduction (10-15 minutes) The teacher will assign each student a role and give him or her the appropriate handout. Students, in turn, will read their role handout and act according to the guidelines established by their role. After reading the role sheet students will write out a list of possible questions you would like to ask the candidate. Teacher may have students design their own roles as individuals to suit the needs of their local community. Be sure to view the extended list of possible roles.
  • Round 1 (10-15 minutes) Each candidate will meet with interest groups and PAC representatives to answer their questions. Each candidate’s campaign manager will meet with individual citizens and answer their questions.
  • Round 2 (10-15 minutes) Each candidate and his/her campaign manager will meet on a need be basis with interest groups and individuals.
  • Round 3 (5-10 minutes) Each interest group or individual fills in their check and gives it to the candidate they support. Candidates then tally their revenues.
  • Teacher declares the Winner – Candidate with the most money wins. Optional: have the candidates, along with their supporters; decide how they would allocate their funds according to the categories above.

Debrief: (10 – 20 minutes) Is this a good system for selecting representatives? Do all people get fairly represented? How can individuals insure their voice is heard next to large contributors? Has this always been a problem for America? What have we tried to do to rectify this campaign finance dilemma? Should we continue to do this in the future? How has the State of Connecticut addressed this issue?

If you have any comments or suggestions about this activity or would like to submit your own activity, please contact us and share your ideas.