University News

Illinois Senator Mike Jacobs (D-Moline) was the keynote speaker at the 2007 Democratic Convention, which was part of WIU's Mock Presidential Election simulation.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

Illinois Senator Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) was the keynote speaker at the 2007 Republication Convention, which was part of WIU's Mock Presidential Election simulation.
[Download Print-Quality Image]

The "Road to the White House Starts at WIU" with Student-Run Mock Presidential Election

September 19, 2011

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB/MOLINE IL – Can Barack Obama retain the presidency for another four-year term? Who will the GOP select for its 2012 presidential candidate? Will the Tea Party weaken the Republican hope for a nominee who can challenge, and possibly beat, Obama? What are the turnkey issues in this election?

For the second time in four years, Western Illinois University will host what may be the largest and most elaborate mock presidential election ever held on a college campus. The simulation – "The Road to the White House Starts at Western Illinois University" – will take place in 12 sessions over six evenings from mid-October to early November – approximately two months before the nation turns its attention to the actual Iowa Caucuses (Feb. 6, 2012).

The Mock Presidential Election simulation is a student-run event, with faculty and other personnel serving as advisers to the students, said Rick Hardy, co-director of the Mock Presidential Election and interim director of WIU's Centennial Honors College.

The excitement kicks off Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the i wireless Center in Moline (IL), as "The Road to the White House Goes Through the Quad Cities," with thousands of students, faculty and community leaders from eastern Iowa, western Illinois and the Quad Cities join to jump start the 2012 race to the White House.

Democratic presidential hopeful Randall Terry has indicated he will attend the Oct. 19 Mock Iowa Caucuses, according to Rick Hardy.

"This is a great start, and we hope other candidates will soon put the i wireless Center on their campaign agendas," Hardy said. "We're right next door to Iowa. What better way to get some pre-Iowa Caucus exposure?"

With the assistance of Western Illinois University Vice President for the Quad Cities, Planning and Technology Joe Rives, Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), St. Ambrose University (Davenport, IA), Black Hawk College (Moline, IL) and Scott Community College (Davenport, IA), as well as area high schools, state and local government officials and local chapters from the League of Women Voters will participate in the Oct. 19 caucuses, which will significantly add to the mock simulation, Hardy said.

"This election scenario not only will promote a better understanding of the electoral process, but also will stimulate student involvement in American politics as well," Hardy said. "This is an extension of the American Democracy Project, co-sponsored in part by the New York Times. It's an ongoing effort to get students involved in government and to stress civic engagement.

"Students and all participants in any part of this Mock President Election, in the Quad Cities or in Macomb, should gain a better understanding of the American political processes; the differences between presidential caucuses and presidential primaries; the importance of local political participation; the differences between the various political parties, what they do and why they do it; and the actual presidential candidates, their records and issue positions. Most importantly, we hope that all participants and spectators leave the venue with a desire to participate in our political system in the future," added Hardy.

Students will follow the same protocol for caucuses, primaries, conventions and elections that are in place for the actual election process.

The Iowa Republican Party Caucus will assemble at 4:45 p.m. and be called to order at 5 p.m. A keynote speaker (to be named) will speak at 5:15 p.m. The candidates, or their surrogates, will be presented, beginning at 5:25 p.m. The presidential campaign begins at 6:15 p.m. At 7 p.m. state caucuses and primaries begin, and the simulation concludes at 7:15 p.m.

The Iowa Democratic Party Caucus will repeat the same procedures, beginning with an 8 p.m. assembly. Call to order is at 8:15 p.m.; the keynote speaker will be former U.S. Congressman Phil Hare (2007-2011, IL 17th District), 8:30 p.m.; presentation of the candidates or surrogates, 8:40 p.m.; presidential campaign begins, 9:15 p.m.; state caucuses and primaries, 10 p.m.; and the simulation concludes, 10:15 p.m.

The schedule for each night of the Mock Presidential Election, as well as candidates, issues and more, is available on the website at

Six days after the opening session, the Race to the White House returns to WIU-Macomb and a Tuesday, Oct. 25 caucuses and primaries for states other than Iowa. Republicans meet from 5:30-7:30 p.m., and Democrats meet from 8-10 p.m. The sessions will be held in the University Union Grand Ballroom.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, the Union Grand Ballroom will be the site for the beginning of the national conventions, featuring keynote speeches and adopting a platform. Times are the same for the parties.

Session four on Tuesday, Nov. 1 will be held in the University Union Lamoine Room, as the parties conclude their conventions with the nomination of a president and vice president. Times are the same for the parties.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, session five will be held in three locations in the University Union.
From 5:30-7 p.m. the Green Party national convention will be in the Heritage Room.
From 6:30-8 p.m. the Tea Party national convention will be in the Lamoine Room.
From 7:30-9 p.m. the Libertarian Party national convention will be in the Heritage Room.

The 2011 Mock Presidential Election will conclude Monday, Nov. 11 in Western Hall with a 6:30-8:30 p.m. "America Elects a President" session.

Western held a Mock Presidential Election before the 2008 presidential election, in which both parties were running for office. Hardy and co-director John Hemingway, associate professor of recreation, park and tourism administration, based the last WIU event on simulations they organized at the University of Iowa in 1976, and another simulation Hardy conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia (1988).

In all three scenarios, the simulation winner was, in reality, elected president of the United States.

For more information, see or call (309) 298-2228.

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing