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Groups of people who belong to, are candidates of, or work for a political party but do not necessarily work together or hold similar policy preferences.

Party Organization

A specific political party's leaders and workers at the national, state, and local levels.

Party in Government

The group of officeholders who belong to a specific political party and were elected as candidate of that party.

Party in the Electorate

The group of citizens who identify with a specific political party.

Party System

A period in which the names of the major political parties, their supporters, and the issues dividing them remain relatively stable.

Party Principle

The idea that a political party exists as an organization distinct from its elected officials or party leaders.

Spoils System

The practice of rewarding party supporters with benefits like federal government positions.

New Deal Coalition

The assemblage of groups who aligned with and supported to the Democratic Party in support of New Deal policies during the fifth party system, including African Americans, Catholics, Jewish people, union members, and white southerners.

Parties in Service

The role of the parties in recruiting, training, fundraising, and campaigning for congressional and presidential candidates. This aspect of party organization grew more prominent during the sixth party system.


A change in the size or composition of the party coalitions or in the nature of the issues that divide the parties. Realignments typically occur within an election cycle or two, but they can also occur gradually over the course of a decade or longer.


Issues that raise disagreements within a party coalition or between political parties about what government should do.

National Committee

An American political party's principal organization, comprised of party representatives from each state.


committee formed by a special-interest group to raise money for their favorite political candidates

527 Organization

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.

Electoral Caucus

A local meeting in which party members select a party's nominee for the general election.

Duverger's Law

Law of politics, formalized by Maurice Duverger, stating that plurality-rule electoral systems will tend to have two political parties

revolving door

the movement of individuals from government positions to jobs with interest groups or lobbying firms, and vice versa.

grassroots lobbying

a lobbying strategy that relies on participation by group members, such as a protest or a letter-writing campaign.

astroturf lobbying

any lobbying method initiated by an interest group that is designed to look like the spontaneous, independent participation of many individuals.

taking the late train

an interest group strategy that involves donating money to the winning candidate after an election in hopes of securing a meeting with that person when he or she takes office.


a legislative act is referred for final approval to a popular vote by the electorate


Direct group involvement in the electoral process. Groups can help fund campaigns, provide testimony, and get members to work for candidates, and some form political action committees (PAC)


an issue's importance to a person, or to the public in general

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