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Rational Ignorance Effect

produced when people purposely and rationally decide not to become informed on an issue because they believe that their vote on the issue is not likely to be a deciding one

Independent Expenditures

nonregulated contribution from PACs, organizations, and individuals. the money can be spent on advertising or other campaign activities so long as those expenditures are not coordinated with those of a candidate

Australian Ballot

a secret ballot prepared, distributed, and tabulated by government officials at public expense


The presidential candidate who appears to be ahead at a given time in the primary season


the practice of moving presidential primary elections to the early part of the campaign to maximize the impact of these primaries on the nomination

Coattail effect

influence of a popular candidate on the electoral success of other candidates on the same party ticket.

Open Primary

A primary in which any registered voter can vote


a meeting of party members designed to select candidates and propose policies

Soft Money

Campaign contributions unregulated by federal or state law

Focus group

a small group of individuals who are led in discussion by a consultant in order to gather opinions on and responses to candidates and issues

Political Action Committee

set up by and representing a corporation, labor union, or special interest group

Beauty Contest

A presidential primary in which contending candidates compete for popular votes but the results do not control the selection of delegates to the national convention

office block ballot

a form of general election ballot in which candidate for elective office are grouped together under the title of each office

corrupt practices acts

a series of acts passed by congress in attempt to limit and regulate the size and source and contributions and expenditures in political campaigns


a member of the electoral college

voter turnout

the percentage of citizens taking part in the election process

Presidential Primary

A statewide primary election of delegates to a political party's national convention, held to determine a party's presidential nominee

Hatch Act

an act passed in 1939 that restricted the political activities of government employees

Party Column ballot

a form of general election in which all of the party's candidates for elective office are arranged in one column under the party's label and symbol. It emphasizes voting for the party, rather than for the office or individual.

Super delegate

a party leader or elected official who is given the right to vote at the party's national convention

Political Consultant

a paid professional hired to devise a campaign strategy and manage a campaign


The entry of a persons name onto the list of registered voters for elections

issue advocacy advertising

advertising paid for by interest groups that support or oppose a candidate or a candidates position on an issue without mentioning voting or elections

Tracking poll

a poll taken for candidates on a nearly daily basis as election day approaches

Credentials Committee

a committee used by political parties at their national conventions to determine which delegates may participate.

Closed Primary

A type of primary in which the voter is limited to choosing candidates of the party of which he or she is a member

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