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30 terms

Campaigns/Elections (Vocabulary)

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Midterm elections
congressional elections that do not coincide with a presidential election; also called off-year elections.
Primary elections
elections used to select a party's candidate for the general election.
Closed primary
a primary election in which voters can participate in the nomination of candidates, but only of the party in which they are enrolled for a period of time prior to primary day.
Open primary
a primary election in which the voter can wait until the day of the primary to choose which party to enroll in to select candidates for the general election.
Referendum
the practice of referring a measure proposed or passed by a legislature to the vote of the electorate for approval or rejection.
Recall
procedure to allow voters an opportunity to remove state officials from office before their terms expire.
Majority system
a type of electoral system in which, to win a seat in the parliament or other representative body, a candidate must receive a majority of all the votes cast in the relevant district.
Plurality system
a type of electoral system in which, to win a seat in the parliament or other representative body, a candidate need only receive the most votes in the election, not necessarily a majority of votes cast.
Proportional representation
a multiple-member district system that allows each political party representation in proportion to its percentage of the total vote.
Redistricting
the process of redrawing election districts and redistributing legislative representatives. This happens every ten years to reflect shifts in population or in response to legal challenges in existing districts.
Gerrymandering
apportionment of voters in districts in such a way as to give unfair advantage to one racial or ethnic group or political party.
Benign gerrymandering
attempts to draw district boundaries so as to create districts made up primarily of disadvantaged or underrepresented minorities.
Minority district
a gerrymandered voting district that improves the chances of minority candidates by making selected minority groups the majority within the district.
Split-ticket voting
the practice of casting ballots for the candidates of at least two different political parties in the same election.
Straight-ticket voting
the practice of casting ballots for candidates of only one party.
Coattail effect
the result of voters casting their ballot for president or governor and "automatically" voting for the remainder of the party's ticket.
Electoral college
the presidential electors from each state who meet after the popular election to cast ballots for president and vice president.
Campaign
an effort by political candidates and their staffs to win the backing of donors, political activists and voters in the quest for political office.
Incumbent
a candidate running for a position that he or she already holds.
Caucus (political)
a normally closed meeting of a political or legislative group to select candidates, plan strategy or make decisions regarding legislative matters.
Open caucus
a presidential nominating caucus open to anyone who wishes to attend.
Closed caucus
a presidential nominating caucus open only to registered party members.
Winner-take-all system
a system in which all of a state's presidential nominating delegates are awarded to the candidate who wins the most votes, while runners-up receive no delegates.
Platform
a party document, written at a national convention, that contains party philosophy, principles and positions on issues.
Delegates
political activists selected to vote at a party's national convention.
Superdelegate
a convention delegate position, in Democratic conventions, reserved for party officials.
Political Action Committee (PAC)
a private group that raises and distributes funds for use in election campaigns.
Soft money
money contributed directly to political parties for voter registration and organization.
527 Committees
nonprofit independent groups that receive and disburse funds to influence the nomination, election or defeat of candidates. Named after Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, which defines and provides tax-exempt status for nonprofit advocacy groups.
Issue advocacy
independent spending by individuals or interest groups on a campaign issue but not directly tied to a particular candidate.