Can you answer these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about politics?

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September 15, 2020
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Can you answer these real 'Jeopardy!' clues about politics?

In the 1950s, quiz shows dominated American television so thoroughly that when the "The $64,000 Pyramid" aired, crime rates dropped and President Dwight Eisenhower demanded not to be disturbed. Shows like "Tic-Tac-Dough," "The Big Surprise," "Twenty One," and many others were in stiff competition for viewers, millions of whom tuned in to watch contestants put their wits on display for the chance to win big bucks, which advertisers and studios raked in no matter who won.

Then, in 1958, a backup contestant on a quiz show called "Dotto" found a notebook filled with answers backstage, realized the game was likely rigged, and called authorities. "Dotto" was soon pulled from the air and a flurry of revelations spurred public outcry, official subpoenas, grand juries, and congressional investigations. It soon came out that fraud was rampant and that many of the most popular shows on television were plainly fixed. Ratings plummeted and by 1960, the great American quiz show industry was finished, as virtually no game shows remained on the air.

In 1963, television personality and producer Merv Griffin came up with an idea to reassure skeptical, scandal-fatigued audiences with a brand new quiz-show format. The idea was to give the answers upfront and make the contestants respond with questions, thereby making it impossible to cheat by giving players the answers in advance. "Jeopardy!" was born.

If you love the show, chances are good you love playing along at home—and if you're a political junkie, now you can play along with Stacker. Using the J! Archive, Stacker developed a list of the best political questions ever asked on the show. From the Founding Fathers to sitting senators, the questions span the political spectrum—and they appear here just as Alex Trebek asked them on television.

Think you know your stuff? Then get ready to play along.

You may also like: Can you answer these real "Jeopardy!" questions about the economy?

Clue #1

He used the expression "rugged individualism" while running for president in 1928.
- Value: $600
- Date episode aired: Nov. 27, 1990

Answer #1: Who is Herbert Hoover?

Herbert Hoover was a self-made millionaire who became the 31st president of the United States. Hoover was staunchly pro-business and believed in limited government and the concept of self-reliance, which he highlighted in his famous "Philosophy of Rugged Individualism" speech on Oct. 22, 1928. Although he did launch significant public works projects at the onset of the Great Depression, Hoover opposed public welfare programs, which he believed would degrade individual character and promote dependence. As the Depression raged on, however, that sentiment would be his downfall as the reeling nation turned toward Franklin D. Roosevelt, who promised and delivered sweeping federal relief and safety net programs.

Clue #2

Third party, its presidential candidates included Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas.
- Category: POLITICS
- Value: $1,000
- Date episode aired: Oct. 5, 1984

Answer #2: What is Socialist?

Eugene Debs formed the Socialist Party in 1898 and capitalized on a growing national sentiment in favor of labor over corporate excess. In the 1912 election, Debs earned 900,000 votes, or 6% of the electorate. Although he got even more votes in 1920, the Socialist Party was already in decline. During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented many socialist goals, which ironically is what crushed the movement and relegated the Socialists to an insignificant third party, a status that endures to this day.

Clue #3

The first two Black senators, Hiram Revels and Blanche Bruce, both represented this Deep South state.
- Category: POLITICS
- Value: $600
- Date episode aired: Sept. 30, 1996

Answer #3: What is Mississippi?

Just 10 African Americans have ever served in the U.S. Senate. Two of them, democrats Cory Booker and Kamala Harris, currently hold office. They are part of a lineage dating back to 1870, five years after the Civil War, when Hiram Revels was elected senator in Mississippi during the brief period of Reconstruction when the rights of newly freed slaves were protected and enforced by federal troops. When Reconstruction ended, Mississippi joined the rest of the former Confederacy in passing harsh "Black codes" designed to return the state's black majority to conditions that resembled slavery as much as possible.

Clue #4

He was the first living president to appear on U.S. paper money—on a $10 demand note authorized in 1861.
- Value: $100
- Date episode aired: Nov. 14, 1989

Answer #4: Who is Abraham Lincoln?

Known as "demand notes," the earliest printed federal currencies were called "greenbacks" for their green ink, which was meant to discourage counterfeiting and fraud. They could be traded in for coinage on demand, hence the name.

Clue #5

He appointed more justices (nine) to the U.S. Supreme Court than any other president in the 20th century.
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: Feb. 15, 2002

Answer #5: Who is Franklin Delano Roosevelt?

The longest-serving president in history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to an unprecedented four terms, although he died in office before he could finish his final term. That, however, is only part of the reason he appointed so many justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. FDR embarked on an aggressive court-packing initiative that he felt was necessary to prevent his ambitious New Deal programs from being stalled or struck down in the courts.

Clue #6

Members of the House of Representatives serve terms of this many years.
- Value: $200
- Date episode aired: May 2, 2008

Answer #6: What is two?

According to the U.S. House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Congress "has been a popularly elected body with its membership reconstituted every two years throughout its history." Two-year terms are mandated in Article I, section 2, clause 1, of the U.S. Constitution.

Clue #7

Usually given in January, it was once known simply as the president's annual message to Congress.
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: Nov. 11, 2013

Answer #7: What is the State of the Union Address?

President Donald Trump's 2019 annual speech was the 96th in-person State of the Union Address in U.S. history. There have been 84 in-person addresses since 1913, when Woodrow Wilson became the first president since the 18th century to give a dual-chamber address in person.

Clue #8

This Bronx native with a hyphenated name wowed politicos with a Big Apple win in 2018.
- Value: $1,000
- Date episode aired: April 12, 2019

Answer #8: Who is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was elected at the age of 29, she became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress—one year prior, the Bronx native was working as a bartender. A self-described Democratic Socialist, the political novice stunned the world when she upset Rep. Joe Crowley, an entrenched political incumbent, in the primary before going on to win nearly 80% of the popular vote in the general election.

Clue #9

This Northeastern man was 30, the minimum age for a U.S. senator, when he ran in 1962; he stuck around 47 years.
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: Sept. 28, 2015

Answer #9: Who is Ted Kennedy?

The brother of John and Robert Kennedy, Edward M. Kennedy spent his career as one of the most vocal proponents of liberal orthodoxy and policy. Known as the Lion of the Senate, Kennedy was the chairman of several powerful committees and steered major legislation on civil rights, gay rights, AIDS, gender equality, and disability rights.

Clue #10

Before a U.S. general election, these elections are held to determine the party candidates.
- Category: POLITICS
- Value: $600
- Date episode aired: Feb. 26, 2003

Answer #10: What are primaries?

In the U.S. form of government, general elections pit two radically different candidates from two different parties in a head-to-head contest. The primary elections that precede general elections are incredibly important. The process gives parties the chance to elect their candidates for the general, and by doing so, also allows them the opportunity to define their respective party's goals, visions, and plans on the national stage.

Clue #11

On July 15, 1976, Jimmy Carter selected this senator as his vice presidential running mate.
- Value: $600
- Date episode aired: Dec. 8,1995

Answer #11: Who is Walter Mondale?

Formerly the attorney general of Minnesota, Walter Mondale was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the seat left vacant when Hubert Humphrey resigned in 1964 to become vice president under President Lyndon Johnson. Mondale remained in the chamber until he was elected vice president alongside President Jimmy Carter. The Democratic Party nominated Mondale to challenge incumbent GOP President Ronald Reagan in 1984. He lost every state but Minnesota, resulting in an Electoral College defeat of 525 votes to 13, one of the greatest landslides in U.S. history.

Clue #12

First Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
- Category: POLITICS
- Value: $100
- Date episode aired: Feb. 8, 1985

Answer #12: What is Election Day?

After Grover Cleveland was elected president in a particularly close and contentious election that took place on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 1884, Congress passed legislation designed to curb voter and election fraud. It required the simultaneous selection of presidential electors, which would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Before that, states could hold elections any day they wished within a given time period.

Clue #13

In 1994, Lawton Chiles overcame a challenge by Jeb Bush for the governorship of this state.
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: Dec. 25, 1995

Answer #13: What is Florida?

The son of George H.W. Bush, the grandson of Prescott Bush, and the brother of George W. Bush, Jeb Bush is a member of one of the grandest political dynasties in U.S. history. After his loss in 1994, Bush persevered and was elected governor of Florida in 1999, a position he held until 2007. In 2016, he was one of many GOP hopefuls vanquished by then-candidate Donald Trump in the Republican primaries for president.

Clue #14

The Republicans were organized in 1854 to oppose the spread of this.
- Category: POLITICS
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: Feb. 12, 1987

Answer #14: What is slavery?

The seeds of the Civil War were sown four decades earlier when the Missouri Compromise of 1820 divided the United States into the free, industrial North, and the pro-slavery, agrarian South. The abolition movement immediately gathered steam and, in 1854, the political wing of the anti-slavery movement coalesced into the Republican Party.

Clue #15

He wrote to his wife Abigail, "I must not write a word to you about politics."
- Value: $100
- Date episode aired: Oct. 4, 1993

Answer #15: Who is John Adams?

A legendary political love affair and half-century marriage began in 1744 when 24-year-old John Adams—who would go on to become the first vice president and second president of the United States—first met 15-year-old Abigail Smith. According to the New England Historical Society, "they would be married for 50 years, have five children, and witness revolution, war, scandal, diplomatic crises, and the birth of a new nation. They would endure long separations, during which they wrote more than a thousand letters to each other." Of those letters, 1,160 survived the centuries, telling the tale of the First Family's enduring romance.

Clue #16

At a Washington fundraiser, this Republican congressman sang his hit "The Beat Goes On."
- Category: POLITICS '96
- Value: $600
- Date episode aired: April 8, 1997

Answer #16: Who is Sonny Bono?

Born Salvatore Phillip Bono to an Italian American mother whose marriage to a Sicilian peasant was arranged when she was 14, Sonny Bono had an extraordinary life and career that spanned the halls of Congress and stages across the world. He rose to fame with his second wife, as part of the husband-and-wife musical duo Sonny & Cher. He was later elected mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., in 1988, and then to the U.S. Congress in 1995. He served until he was killed in a skiing accident in 1998.

Clue #17

This term for the assistant to the majority or minority leader in the House will get you cracking.
- Value: $100
- Date episode aired: July 5, 2000

Answer #17: What is a whip?

The term "whip," the name given to a powerful and important member elected from each party, is derived from a fox-hunting title given to the person responsible for corralling the hunting party's dogs. Functioning as the party's enforcers, whips are tasked with keeping party members in line and on board with the party's voting agenda.

Clue #18

This U.S. Marine, Iran-Contra figure, and onetime Virginia Senate candidate is a lefty (but not in politics).
- Category: SOUTHPAWS
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: May 25, 2012

Answer #18: Who is Oliver North?

Oliver North was back in the news recently after being ousted as the president of the embattled gun lobby organization, the National Rifle Association. His real time in the media spotlight, however, was in the late 1980s when the decorated military veteran was at the center of the Iran-Contra political scandal that dogged much of President Ronald Reagan's second term.

Clue #19

This Secretary of State wrote "The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War and Peace, 1989–1992."
- Value: $1,600
- Date episode aired: Feb. 13, 2012

Answer #19: Who is James Baker?

James Baker served in high-level positions under three presidential administrations, including as Secretary of the Treasury and White House chief of staff under President Ronald Reagan, and Secretary of State under President George H.W. Bush. The latter job was the impetus for his book, which was based on the challenges he faced while attempting to organize post-Soviet Europe.

Clue #20

In 2003, this South Carolinian retired at age 100 after 47 years in the Senate.
- Value: $1,600
- Date episode aired: May 28, 2014

Answer #20: Who is Strom Thurmond?

Sen. Strom Thurmond's political career began in 1932 when he was elected to the state senate of South Carolina. He later became governor and ran for president in 1946. He will always be remembered, however, for conducting the longest filibuster in history—lasting more than 24 hours nonstop—in an attempt to thwart the Civil Rights Act of 1957. An ardent segregationist, Thurmond, along with most of the rest of his southern Democratic colleagues, became a Republican in 1964 when Democratic President Lyndon Johnson signed sweeping civil rights legislation.

Clue #21

Tip O'Neill wrote "All politics is" this.
- Category: STARTS & ENDS WITH L
- Value: $800
- Date episode aired: Nov. 24, 2014

Answer #21: What is local?

Thomas Philip "Tip" O'Neill was one of the longest-serving speakers of the House of Representatives in history. The Massachusetts Democrat, one of the most powerful politicians in the United States, held the position from 1977 to 1988. His famous quote implies that people vote first and foremost on the so-called kitchen-table issues that affect them, their families, and their communities.

Clue #22

On Sept. 1, 1980, the New York Times said "Republicans worry about" one of these events that happen late in a campaign.
- Value: $2,000
- Date episode aired: Sept. 24, 2018

Answer #22: What is an October surprise?

The term "October surprise" usually refers to a last-minute attack by a politician's opponent just before voters head to their polling places in early November. In many cases, political operatives gather potentially damaging information and wait until the 11th hour to release it to ensure it has maximum impact on the election. In some cases, however, non-political events can also serve as election-changing October surprises, like major environmental disasters, economic collapses, or terrorist attacks.

Clue #23

They're close allies; it's said that "politics makes strange" ones.
- Category: GOOD FELLOWS
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: Feb. 6, 2019

Answer #23: What are bedfellows?

The phrase "politics makes strange bedfellows" dates, in part, back to "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare. The modern incarnation, however, can be traced to 19th-century American essayist Charles Dudley Warner. The concept is that the compromise necessary to make the political system work often results in unlikely alliances between people or groups that seem to have little in common, like when Christian conservatives unite with secular liberals against the death penalty.

Clue #24

This first name of California senator Harris means "lotus" in Sanskrit.
- Category: Women of Politics
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: April 12, 2019

Answer #24: What is Kamala?

Kamala Harris replaced Barbara Boxer in 2017 to become the third woman in history to represent California in the U.S. Senate. She recently tossed her hat into a crowded ring of Democratic primary contestants vying for the party's nomination to challenge President Trump in 2020.

Clue #25

Considered strongest after a landslide win, this term refers to the authority to actively pursue stated policies.
- Category: POLITICS
- Value: $400
- Date episode aired: July 5, 2016

Answer #25: What is a mandate?

After winning a razor-thin election, victorious politicians have to walk a political tightrope to maintain fragile majorities, prevent defections, and work with the opposition. After landslides, however, the governing party can claim a mandate—political carte blanche to follow through on the policies they promoted during their campaigns.

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