Organizations that seek out political power by electing people to office who will help party positions and philosophy become public policy.
An election in which candidates are not selected or endorsed by political parties and party affiliation is not listed on ballots.
Patronage (Spoils System)
The dispensing of government jobs to persons who belong to the winning political party.
Responsible Party System
The European model of party government that assumes that parties discipline their members through their control over nominations and campaigns.
American system of government in which politicians are nominated largely on the basis of their qualifications and personal appeal, not party loyalty.
Period at the beginning of a new president's term during which the president enjoys generally positive relations with the press and Congress, usually lasting about six months.
A meeting of local party members to choose party officials or candidates for public office and to decide the platform.
A meeting of party delegates to vote on matters of policy and in some cases to select party candidates for public office.
Election in which voters choose party nominees.
Primary election in which any voter, regardless of party, may vote.
Voting by a member of one party for a candidate of another party.
Primary election in which only persons registered in the party holding the primary may vote.
A primary election in which each voter may vote for candidates from both parties.
A small political party that persists over time, is often composed of ideologies on the right or left, or that is centered on a charismatic candidate. Such a party is also called a third party
When two or more parties join together to form a majority in a national legislature. This form of government is quite common in the multiparty systems of Europe.
An election system in which each party running receives the proportion of legislative seats corresponding to its proportion of the vote.
Winner Take All System
An election system in which the candidate with the most votes wins.
States that if a nation has a single member plurality electoral system, it will develop a 2 party system
Minor Parties (not one of the primary parties in the U.S.)
Realigning Election (Critical Election)
An election during periods of expanded suffrage and change in the economy and society that proves to be a turning point, redefining the agenda of politics and the alignment of voters within parties.
Reinforcement of the majority status of the party in power (election in which the party in power does not change hands).
Governance divided between the parties, as when one holds the presidency and the other controls one or both houses of Congress.
National Party Convention
A national meeting of delegates elected in primaries, caucuses, or state conventions who assemble once every four years to nominate candidates for president and vice president, ratify the party platform, elect officers, and adopt rules.
In charge of the national party when it is not assembled in convention.
The head of a national political party.
A political party's statement of its goals and policies for the next four years
The act of declaring party affiliation; required by some states when one registers to vote.
Place the party first; value winning elections and understand that compromise and moderation may be necessary to reach a party objective.
Followers of a particular candidate who see the party as the means to elect their candidate.
Wish to push the parties in a particular direction on a single issue or a narrow range of issues (eg, the war in Iraq, abortion, taxes, school prayer, civil rights, etc.).
An informal and subjective affiliation with a political party that most people acquire in childhood.
Weakening of partisan preferences that points to a rejection of both major parties and a rise in the number of Independents.
Money raised in unlimited amounts by political parties for party-building purposes. Now largely illegal except for limited contributions to state or local parties for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Political contributions given to a party, candidate, or interest group that are limited in amount and fully disclosed. Raising such limited funds is harder than raising unlimited funds, hence the term's name.
A term the founders used to refer to political parties and special interests or interest groups.
A theory of government that holds that open, multiple, and competing groups can check the asserted power by any one group.
A collection of people who share a common interest or attitude and seek to influence for specific ends. They usually work within the framework of government and try to achieve their goals through tactics such as lobbying.
A large body of people interested in a common issue, idea, or concern that is of continuing interest and who are willing to take action. They seek to change attitudes or institutions, not just policies.
Interest Group Pluralism
Competition among open, responsive, and diverse groups help preserve democratic values and limits the concentration of power in any single group.
businesses with similar interests band together in order to push their ideas; eg: regulation issues
A company with a labor agreement under which union membership cannot be required as a condition of employment.
A company with a labor agreement under which union membership can be a condition of employment.
An individual who does not join a group representing his or her interests yet receives the benefit of the group's influence.
Groups of individuals who share a common profession and are often organized for common political purposes related to that profession.
Ideological groups whose members generally share a common view and desire for government to pursue policies consistent with a single issue.
Nongovernmental Organization (NGO)
A nonprofit association or group operating outside of government that advocates and pursues policy objectives.
How groups form and organize to pursue their goals or objectives, including how to get individuals and groups to participate and cooperate. The term has many applications in the various social sciences such as political science, sociology, and economics.
Synonymous with "collective action," it specifically studies how government officials, politicians, and voters respond to positive and negative incentives.
Engaging in activities aimed at influencing public officials, especially legislators, and the policies they enact.
An official document, published every weekday, which lists the new and proposed regulations of executive departments and regulatory agencies.
Amicus Curiae Brief
Literally, a "friend of the court" brief, filed by an individual or organization to present arguments in addition to those presented by the immediate parties to a case.
Free from party affiliation or bias.
A tactic in which political action committees (PACs) collect contributions from like-minded individuals (each limited to $2,000) and present them to a candidate or political party as a "bundle," thus increasing the PAC's influence.
A person who is employed by and acts for an organized interest group or corporation to try to influence policy decisions and positions in the executive and legislative branches.
Employment cycle in which individuals who work for government agencies that regulate interests eventually end up working for interest groups or businesses with the same policy concern.
Relationships among interest groups, congressional committees and subcommittees, and the government agencies that share a common policy concern.
Political Action Committee (PAC)
The political arm of an interest group that is legally entitled to raise funds on a voluntary basis from members, stockholders, or employees to contribute funds to candidates or political parties.
A PAC formed by an office holder that collects contributions from individuals and other PACs and then makes contributions to other candidates and political parties.
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act
Largely banned party soft money, restored on long-standing prohibition on corporations and labor unions for using general treasury funds for electoral purposes, and narrowed the definition of issue advocacy.
The Supreme Court has ruled that individuals, groups, and parties can spend unlimited amounts in campaigns for or against candidates as long as they operate independently from the candidates.
Unlimited and undisclosed spending by an individual or group on communications that do not use words like "vote for" or "vote against," although much of this activity is actually about electing or defeating candidates.
A political group organized under section 527 of the IRS code that may accept and spend unlimited amounts of money on election activities so long as they are not spent on broadcast ads run in the last 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election in which a clearly identified candidate is referred to and a relevant electorate is targeted.
Terms of office that have a definite length of time, e.g., two years for a member of the House.
Not all offices are up for election at the same time.
A politician who cannot, or has announced that he or she will not, run again.
An electoral district in which voters choose one representative or official.
The system used in electing the president and vice president, in which voters vote for electors pledged to cast their ballots for a particular party's candidates.
An elected office that is predictably won by one party or the other, so the success of that party's candidate is almost taken for granted.
the drawing of electoral district boundary lines to grant political advantage to a particular party, therefore increasing the number of winning candidates within that party.
The boost that candidates may get in an election because of the popularity of candidates above them on the ballot, especially the president.
The tendency in elections to focus on the personal attributes of a candidate, such as his/her strengths, weaknesses, background, experience, and visibility.
The inclination to focus on national issues, rather than local issues, in an election campaign. The impact of the national tide can be reduced by the nature of the candidates on the ballot who might have differentiated themselves from their party or its leader if the tide is negative, as well as competition in the election.
Allows members of Congress to mail letters & other materials to constituents postage-free.
Incumbents have an advantage over challengers in election campaigns because voters are more familiar with them, and incumbents are more recognizable.
A seat that does not have an incumbent due to redistricting or retirement.
Popularity vote in which voters indicate which candidate they prefer but do not actually elect delegates to the convention.
Federal Election Commission
Created by the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act to administer election reform laws. Its duties include overseeing disclosure of campaign finance information and public funding of presidential elections, and enforcing contribution limits.
Nationwide Presidential Primary
Would take the form of a single nationwide election or separate state primaries held in all states on the same day.
The nation would be divided into regions and primaries would be held at two to three week intervals across the country.
Direct Popular Election
Abolishing the electoral college and basing the presidency solely on the popular vote.
Means of communication designed to reach the general public.
Media that emphasize the news.
Journalism that exploits, distorts, or exaggerates the news to create sensations and attract readers.
The process by which individuals screen out messages that do not conform to their own biases.
The process by which individuals perceive what they want in media messages.
The power of the media to bring public attention to particular issues and problems.
The way that politicians or interest group leaders define an issue when presenting it to others.
A small group of individuals who are led in discussion by a professional consultant in order to gather opinions on and responses to candidates and issues.
Campaign professionals who provide candidates with advice and services on media relations, advertising strategy, and opinion polling.
A close contest; by extension, any contest in which the focus is on who is ahead and by how much rather than on substantive differences between the candidates.
Negative advertising may discourage some voters who would be inclined to support a candidate while making supporters more likely to vote.
Issue centered focus; Newspapers identify the concerns of community leaders, talk to ordinary voters, and write campaign stories from their point of view.