32 terms

Chapters 8, 10: Political Participation and Elections

conventional political participation
Activities designed to influence government, including voting, volunteering for a campaign, donating to a campaign, calling an elected official's office.
unconventional political participation
Activities that are legal but that require direct action that could be interpreted as inappropriate or radical. Ex: boycotting, staging demonstrations and protests.
Participation that involves assembling crowds to confront a government or other official organization in order to express viewpoints.
The right to vote; also called the franchise.
The percentage of eligible individuals who actually vote in an election. Eligible voters include unregistered voters.
socioeconomic status
Status in society based on level of education, income, and occupational prestige. Socioeconomic status is a good predictor of voter turnout as well-educated and wealthier individuals are more likely to vote. Age is also a good predictor of voter turnout; the elderly turnout is far higher than youth turnout.
"sleeping giant"
The Latino population is considered the "sleeping giant" within American politics because the Latino population is increasing while voter turnout remains low. If Latino turnout were higher they would become one of the most important segments of the population (for politicians trying to win campaigns).
same-day registration (SDR)
The option in some states to register on the day of the election, at the polling place, rather than in advance of the election. Practice that increases voter turnout and makes participation easier.
permanent absentee ballot
The option in some states to have a ballot sent automatically to your home for each election, rather than having to request an absentee ballot each time. Practice that increases voter turnout and makes participation easier.
early voting
The option in some states to cast a vote at a polling place or by mail before election day. Practice that increases voter turnout and makes participation easier.
primary elections
Elections held to select a party's candidate for the general election. Dates may vary depending on party, state, and office being sought (typically held in the spring).
general election
Elections held to select officeholders in which candidates from different party's compete against each other. In the United States, general elections for national office and most state and local offices are held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
midterm elections
A general election that does include a presidential election. Also referred to as "congressional" or "off-year" elections. The midterm election includes the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate.
closed primary
A primary election in which voters can participate in the nomination of candidates only if they are a party member.
open primary
A primary election in which voters can participate in the nomination of candidates regardless of their party affiliation.
majority system
A type of electoral system in which, to win, a candidate must receive a majority of all the votes cast. (May require a runoff election).
runoff election
A "second-round" election in a majority system in which voters choose between the top two candidates from the first round.
plurality system
A type of electoral system in which, to win, a candidate need only receive the most votes, not necessarily a majority of the votes cast.
single-member representation
System in which individual geographic districts each elect one representative. For example, the House of Representatives is comprised of 435 districts, and each one elects one person to the House. The design of such a system makes it very difficult for third party candidates to get elected because the largest faction in any one district is likely to be one of the two major parties.
straight-ticket voting
Selecting candidates from the same political party for all offices on the ballot.
majority-minority district
A congressional district in which the majority of the constituents belong to racial or ethnic minorities.
electoral college
The presidential electors from each state who meet after the general election to cast ballots for president and vice president.
ballot initiative
A proposed law or policy change that is placed on the ballot by citizens or interest groups for a popular vote.
The practice of referring a proposed law passed by a legislature to the vote of the electorate for approval or rejection.
A procedure to allow voters to remove state officials from office before their terms expire by circulating petitions to call a vote.
An effort by political candidates and their supporters to win the backing of donors, political activists, and voters in their quest for political office.
political action committee (PAC)
A private group that raises and distributes funds for use in election campaigns.
527 committees
Nonprofit PACs whose activities are not coordinated with the candidate campaigns; named after section 527 of the IRS code, which grants them exemption from regulations that apply to political campaigns. 527s can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money and exist specifically for the purpose of political advocacy (political ads, etc.) Often, a 527 will air negative ads that an official campaign is reluctant to endorse. 527s must provide information on their donors.
501c(4) committees
Nonprofit PACs that do not have to disclose their donors (dark money). A 501c(4) differs from a 527 in that only half of its money can be devoted to political advocacy. A 501c(4) tends to have a longer life span than a 527.
prospective voting
Voting based on the imagined future performance of a candidate or political party.
retrospective voting
Voting based on the past performance of a candidate or political party.
rational choice voting
Voting based on what is perceived to be in the citizen's individual interest.