political party

group of citizens who organize to win elections, hold public offices, operate governments and determine public policy

plurality election

winning candidate is the person who receives more votes than anyone else, but less than half the total

single-member district

an electoral district from which one person is chosen by the votes for each elected office

party era

historical period dominated by one political party

critical election

election when significant groups of voters change their traditional patterns of party loyalty

party realignment

the majority party is displaced by the minority party, thus ushering in a new party era. For example, in 1932, FDR led the New Deal coalition of blue-collar workers, racial minorities, Southerners, and farm laborers to a sweeping electoral victory

Divided Government

a government in which one party controls the presidency while another party controls Congress

interest group

organization of people whose members share views on specific interests and attempt to influence public policy to their benefit

political action committee(PAC)

committee formed by business, labor, or other interest groups to raise money and make contributions to the campaigns of political candidates whom they support

free riders

people who benefit from an interest group without making any contributions

power elite theory

theory that a small number of very wealthy individuals, powerful corporate interest groups, and large financial institutions dominate key policy areas

pluralist theory

theory that many interest groups compete for power in a large number of policy areas

hyperpluralist theory

theory that government policy is weakened and often contradictory because there are so many competing interest groups

mass media

means of communication such as newspapers, radio, television, and the Interent that can reach large, widely dispersed audiences

linkage institutions

institutions that connect citizens to government

horse-race journalism

tendency of the media to cover campaigns by emphasizing how candidates stand in the polls instead of where they stand on the issues

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