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party competition

the battle of the parties for control of public offices. Ups and downs of the two major parties are one of the most important elements in American politics.

political party

an organization to gain political power

linkage institution

the means by which individuals can express preferences regarding the development of public policy

rational-choice theory

A popular theory in political science to explain the actions of voters as well as politicians. It assumes that individuals act in their own best interest, carefully weighing the costs and benefits of possible alternatives.

party image

The voter's perception of what the Republicans or Democrats stand for, such as conservatism or liberalism

party identification

An informal and subjective affiliation with a political party that most people acquire in childhood.

ticket splitting

voting with one party for one office and with another party for other offices

party machines

A type of political party organization that relies heavily on material inducements, such as patronage, to win votes and to govern.


the business given to a commercial establishment by its customers

closed primaries

elections to select party nominees in which only people who have registered in advance with the party can vote for that party's candidates, thus encouraging greater party loyalty

open primaries

elections to select party nominees in which voters can decide on Election Day whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican contests.

blanket primaries

elections to select party nominees in which voters are presented with a list of candidates from all the parties. Voters can then select some Democrats and some Republicans if they like.

national convention

the meeting of party delegates every four years to choose a presidential ticket and write the party's platform.

national committee

delegates who run party affairs between national conventions

national chairperson

person responsible for the day-to-day activities of the party and is usually hand-picked by the presidential nominee.


the union of diverse things into one body or form or group

party eras

historical periods in which a majority of voters cling to the party in power, which tends to win a majority of the elections.

critical election

Sharp changes in the existing patterns of party loyalty due to changing social and economic conditions

party realignment

the displacement of the majority party by the minority party, usually during a critical election period

New Deal coalition

coalition forged by the Democrats who dominated American politics from the 1930's to the 1960's. its basic elements were the urban working class, ethnic groups, Catholics and Jews, the poor, Southerners, African Americans, and intellectuals.

party dealignment

the gradual disengagement of people and politicians from the parties, as seen in part by shrinking party identification.

thrid parties

have never won a presidental elections but they can influence the out come

winner-take-all system

an election system in which the candidate with the most votes wins

Proportional representation

representation of all parties in proportion to their popular vote

coalition government

a government controlled by a temporary alliance of several political parties

responsible party model

a view favored by some political scientists about how parties should work. According to the model, parties should offer clear choices to the voters, who can then use those choices as cues to their own preferences of candidates. Once in office, parties would carry out their campaign promises.

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