The United States of NUIM Apprentice-land Elections Task

In this elections role-playing task, the students of the NUI Maynooth MA Society and Space class are all vying to be the president of the United States of NUIM Apprentice-land. The electoral process will mirror that of the US Presidential elections and will help the students learn about what happens in the US presidential election process by means of active participation. This will also tease out what might occur if the US Presidential election rules/process was applied to the Irish case! 

During this task the students will need to (i) compete with their fellow team/party members to win the party nomination to contest the presidential election in Week 3/4 against the successful candidate of the other team. (ii) if they do not the nomination or the vice presidential nod, they must help support their candidate to win the final run-off election – if they do get the nomination/vice presidential nod then they will be in full campaigning mode for the final week/weeks, culminating in the Presidential Election election night results.

Nomination phase:

Each member of the team starts off as a candidate for the party nomination and starts off with a €100,000 budget. But candidates will lose €10,000, even with no campigning, for each day that they remain in the campaign. There are also various campaign costs involved – for instance,

  • setting up seven campaign offices in a county costs €10,000,
  • hire campaign staff to work for your campaign – costs €10,000 per smaller county/€20,000 per bigger county (population of 100,000 and over)
  • buying ads in local newspapers/on local radio costs €10,000,
  • buying ads in national newspapers/on national media costs €50,000.

Candidates may, if they are successful in early contests or if they espouse views that may be acceptable to certain groups and businesses, get offered private donations (which they can choose to accept or decline). Donations must be formally accepted before these can be added to their campaign fund. Candidates may also apply for a loan of up to €50,000 from Mr. Bill Kavllen, which must be repaid in full!

Once candidates have no monies left (including loaned money), they are declared bankrupt and out of the race. Candidates can choose to withdraw from the race for various reasons, but should do it for strategic reasons and try to do it in such a way as to gain influence with other (remaining) candidates. If they withdraw, any remaining campaign funds will go into the party pot for the final run off election against the opposition’s candidate.

Candidates can do well in a contest if (i) they use campaign finances wisely and strategically, (ii) show themselves to be vigorous campaigners on the blog/forum, (iii) show some local knowledge of the counties they are campaigning in, (iv) can claim some allegiance with the counties they are campaigning in (hey this is Ireland!!!) or (v) are very devious and cunning. Candidates can also earn extra votes/delegates from endorsements from other (withdrawn) candidates or from real people (former NUIM Apprentices or “real” Apprentices, politicians, celebrities). Candidates can also consider using social media  (e.g. blog, Facebook page, Twitter) as a way of highlighting/enhancing your campaign.

During the primary stage, candidates need to be mindful of the main support bases associated with their respective parties and direct their campaign style accordingly to ensure they get the party nomination – the “green” party has a mainly rural and conservative support base, the “gold” party have a mainly urban and liberal support base.

Candidates also need to take account of the rules for different primaries/caucuses in different counties – will the county’s delegates be assigned proportionally or on a “winner takes all” basis.

The results of different primaries/caucuses will be released in line with the schedule suggested in the table below and will reflect how well candidates have done in relation to the campaigning, as well as the natural advantages certain candidates may have due to geography.

No. of delegates
Green Party Gold Party Date/time of convention
County 745 1,032
Leinster 281 531
Carlow caucuses 6 11 Friday 28 Sep AM
Dublin 140 275
Dublin City primary 57 116 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown caucuses 21 47 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Fingal primary 31 58 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
South Dublin primary 30 55 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Kildare caucuses 23 46 Friday 28 Sept PM
Kilkenny primary 11 20 Friday 28 Sep AM
Laois primary 10 16 Tuesday 25 Sept PM
Longford caucuses 5 8 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Louth primary 14 26 Monday 24 Sept AM (1.00)
Meath primary 20 40 Tuesday 2 Oct AM
Offaly caucuses 9 15 Tuesday 25 Sept PM
Westmeath caucuses 11 17 Monday 24 Sept AM (11.30)
Wexford 17 30 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Wicklow 16 28 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Munster 188 190
Clare caucuses/primary 20 14 Tues 2 Oct AM
Cork 72 88
Cork City primary 15 22 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Cork County caucuses 60 61 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Kerry primary 24 19 Tuesday 25 Sept PM
Limerick 28 31
Limerick City caucuses 8 10 Tuesday 25 Sept AM
Limerick County primary 22 18 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
North Tipperary caucuses 10 11 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
South Tipperary caucuses 12 15 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Waterford 15 21
Waterford City primary 6 9 Monday 1 Oct AM
Waterford County primary 9 12 Monday 1 Oct AM
Connacht 89 71
Galway 35 43
Galway City primary 10 14 Thursday 27 Sept PM
Galway County caucuses 26 28 Thursday 27 Sept PM
Leitrim caucuses 6 3 Monday 1 Oct AM
Mayo primary 22 17 Tuesday 25 Sept AM
Roscommon caucuses 10 9 Friday 28 Sep PM
Sligo primary 9 11 Friday 28 Sep PM
Ulster (part of) 47 41
Cavan caucuses 12 10 Wednesday 26 Sept AM
Donegal primary 24 25 Tuesday 25 Sept PM
Monaghan primary 8 11 Wednesday 26 Sept AM

Candidates should consider their position as results come out and at different stages of the primaries/caucuses process some candidates may need to withdraw. Deciding when to do so and how to use leverage associated with this will determine how well they do on this task.

“What should the candidates be doing?”

Wednesday 19 Sep, Thursday 20 Sep, Friday 21 Sep, Saturday 22 Sep and Sunday 23 Sep: Get active in terms of the campaign forum and the campaign blog. This will increase (hopefully) knowledge of, and interest in, their campaign and establish them as a candidate to look out for. This may also attract some donations their way from impressed donors which will give them more money to play with in your electioneering. They can steal a march on their rivals by hitting the ground early in some of their target constituencies/counties – i.e. spend some money there on campaign offices and/or advertising, do some campaigning (via the Campaign Blogs – something along the lines of “Today I visited Town X and am horrified to observe the poor facilities there. I promised the good people of the town that I would…”

If candidates can get some endorsements (and prove this) from “real” politicians or celebrities associated with these areas then that could amount to a major coup on their part, especially if they’re made to sweat it out for these nominations. If candidates do seek endorsements, remember that you are representatives of Mr. Bill Kavllen and must request endorsements by means of proper (i.e. no sloppy spelling errors, no text-speak, no poor grammar) and polite means!!!

Candidates also need to start spending some money and show what they’re doing on the campaign and getting a campaign presence (they’re losing €10,000 a day anyway) on the ground in some of the constituencies otherwise they will be out of the race before they know it. But they should NOT spend money that they do not have (i.e.  spending loan money without asking for, and getting this, first, spending donation money without formally accepting this) otherwise they will be declared BANKRUPT and out of the race.

Monday 24 Sept and Tuesday 25 Sept

The first primaries are held – see the schedule in the document below. Candidates should assess their position. If they’ve done well, they need to be picking up on campaign donations and using these strategically to maintain their advantage in the race. If they’ve done poorly, they may need to consider withdrawing and endorsing one of the other candidates or else maybe clinging in and playing the “long game”…

Wednesday 26 Sept

In the class meeting, results from the big group of primaries being held on that day come in during a special elections broadcast hosted by Bill Kavllen’s cousin, Mr. Bill-cent Brown. Class members will be interviewed in relation to the successes/failures of their candidacies. Each group/party should then meet briefly to consider where they stand after the first set of primary results and see if there is consensus at that stage over the nomination of a party candidate (the successful Green Party candidate needs to win 373 delegates to win the party nomination, while the successful Gold Party candidate needs to win 517 delegates to win the party nomination.) If the party have consensus on their candidate at that stage, they go into full blown election campaigning mode and have two weeks to campaign ahead of the presidential election vote. If more than one candidate wants to remain in the race, the party primaries continue into Week 2 of the task until all candidates withdraw apart from the leading candidate.

Thursday 27 Sep – Tues 2 Oct 

If more than one candidate is still left in the race, the primaries and caucuses process continues. If the candidate is decided on, or as soon as this happens, immediate preparations for the final run off contest against the candidate from the opposition party should commence. The successful candidate needs to think about, and appoint, her/his running mate (potential future Vice President) and a good, effective, director of elections who will now take on the role of Party Chairperson (effectively the Project Manager). Work needs to be assigned to different group members – should some look specifically after campaigning in different parts of the country?, should someone take responsibility for fund raising, social media presence, gaining endorsements, speech writing etc?

If a losing candidate is not happy with the result of their party’s nomination race and are ultra-ambitious they might consider running as a third party candidate but in order to do so, they will have to get the backing of one defector from their own party and two defectors from the opposition party. These defectors will form their campaign team from that point on. Note: Only one third party candidate will be permitted in this contest.

The Final Run Off

Party Conventions – Task for October 3rd class: While groups/parties may be in effective election mode for the final run off contest some days or even a week before the class on October 3rd, the Party Conventions which will take place at this class marks the official start of the election proper. Each party/group will have 15-20 minutes for holding their convention (15 minutes if candidate already known/agreed, 20 minutes if not as there will have to be a vote then!) which should include a short address by the Party Chairperson and also include other speeches including those from the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates. A team member, other than the candidates and the Party Chairperson (who should be allowed to focus mainly on organising the campaign) should take the responsibility for the overall organisation of the Convention. It should be tightly organised and have plenty of impact, as a good convention would be expected to the give the party candidate a bounce in the polls heading into the final week of the campaign. There will be no conventions for a Third Party candidate, but they may be invited to make an announcement following the conventions and also will have to announce their own running mate.

The task for the final week (Thursday 4th October-Tuesday 9th October) will be to continue the party’s presidential election campaign leading up to the announcement of the results at the October 10th class. Parties need to direct their campaigns strategically towards certain counties to achieve the most efficient electoral result. Parties will have to decide whether to focus their efforts on defending the party lead in their strong counties (“green” or “gold” counties) or trying to make massive gains in the opposition party’s strongholds or trying to win the “white” counties where contests are usually close between both parties.

Type of County Electoral College votes (in Final election)
County 538
Leinster 294
Carlow caucuses Weak Gold 6
Dublin 149
Dublin City primary Strong Gold 62
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown caucuses Strong Gold 24
Fingal primary Weak Gold 32
South Dublin primary Strong Gold 31
Kildare caucuses Weak Gold 25
Kilkenny primary White 11
Laois primary White 9
Longford caucuses Weak Green 5
Louth primary White 14
Meath primary Weak Gold 22
Offaly caucuses Weak Green 9
Westmeath caucuses White 10
Wexford Weak Gold 17
Wicklow Gold 16
Munster 146
Clare caucuses/primary Strong Green 14
Cork 61
Cork City primary White 14
Cork County caucuses Weak Green 47
Kerry primary Strong Green 17
Limerick 22
Limerick City caucuses Weak Gold 7
Limerick County primary Strong Green 16
North Tipperary caucuses Weak Green 8
South Tipperary caucuses Green 10
Waterford 13
Waterford City primary White 5
Waterford County primary Green 8
Connacht 64
Galway 29
Galway City primary White 9
Galway County caucuses Green 21
Leitrim caucuses Strong Green 4
Mayo primary Strong Green 15
Roscommon caucuses Strong Green 8
Sligo primary Weak Green 8
Ulster (part of) 35
Cavan caucuses Green 9
Donegal primary Weak Green 19
Monaghan primary Weak Green 7

The political support patterns associated with these counties are detailed as above.


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