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Nomination

the official endorsement of a candidate for office by a political party. Generally, success in the nomination game requires momentum, money, and media attention.

Campaign strategy

master game plan candidates lay out to guide their electoral campaign.

National party convention

supreme power within each of the parties. The convention meets every four years to nominate the presidential and vice-presidential candidates and to write the party's platform

Caucus (State Party)

meeting of all state party leaders for selecting delegates to the national party convention. Caucuses are usually organized as a pyramid.

Presidential primaries

elections in which voters in a state vote for a candidate (or delegates pledged to him or her). Most delegates to the national party conventions are chosen this way.

McGovern-Fraser Commission

commission formed at the 1968 Democratic convention in response to demands for reform by minority groups and others who sought better representation.

Superdelegate

national party leaders who automatically get a delegate slot at the democratic national party convention.

Frontloading

recent tendency of states to hold primaries early in the calendar in order to capitalize on media attention.

National primary

proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries, which would replace these electoral methods with a nationwide primary held early in election year.

Regional primaries

proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries to replace these electoral methods with a series of primaries held in each geographic region.

Party platform

political party's statement of its goals and policies for the next four years. The platform is drafted prior to the party convention by a committee whose members are chosen in rough proportion to each candidate's strength. It is the best formal statement of a party's beliefs.

Direct mail

high-tech method of raising money for a political cause or candidates. It involves sending information and requests for money to people whose names appear on lists of those who have supported similar views or candidates in the past.

Federal Election Campaign Act

law passed in 1974 for reforming campaign finances. The act created the Federal Election Commission (FEC), provided public financing for presidential primaries and general elections, limited presidential campaign spending, required disclosure, and attempted to limit contributions.

Federal Election Committee (FEC)

six-member bipartisan agency created by the FECA of 1974. The FEC administers and enforces campaign finance laws.

Soft money

political contributions earmarked for party-building expenses at the grassroots level or for generic party advertising. Unlike money that goes to the campaign of a particular candidate, such party donations are not subject to contribution limits.

Political Action Committees (PACs)

funding vehicles created by the 1974 campaign finance reforms. A corporation, union, or some other interest group can create a PAC and register it with the FEC, which will meticulously monitor the PAC's expenditures.

Selective perception

phenomenon that people often pay the most attention to things they already agree with and interpret them according to their own predispositions.

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